Thermometers and thermostats

Recently during one of our Rock Solid programs, we discussed a concept based on two illustrations: a thermometer and a thermostat. The thermometer simply reflects the temperature, while the thermostat can change the temperature. We talked about how these two illustrations help us understand that people can be thermometers or thermostats: some are limited to simply reflecting the circumstances or the attitudes that surround them, while others can influence these things through their values and principles.

Our goal for the Rock Solid session was to help kids think about how often their choices are conditioned by what is around them, but how actually they have the potential to positively influence their circumstances. This concept can also be applied to youthworkers, and even Jesus talks about it in Luke 10:17 and 20:

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “… do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

In this story we see that the disciples return to Jesus enthusiastic of their ministry successes. Jesus, however, encourages them to not let their joy be simply a product of their success, but that their true and lasting joy needs to come from the fact that they belong to God. We see this in our experience as well: it’s easy to be happy with ourselves when we experience successes, just as it is easy to feel insecure and defeated when we don’t see success. By living this way, however, we are being thermometers, limiting ourselves to reflect only what is happening around us.

Jesus teaches us that we can be thermostats: we can have joy both in our successes and in our defeats because we are sure of Christ’s love for us, and this truth becomes the strength that helps us positively influence the temperature around us.