Movin’ on up (to the new shell)

Have you ever had a life-changing moment that didn’t change your life? In the moment, you were sold out, on-fire, motivated to … get organized, start a new business, give it all up and go into ministry, transform your strained relationships into new ones., and instead of reordering your household, just rearranged the furniture.

Pastor Brad talked about that very thing yesterday in worship, the times we have let excitement for change and growth dwindle. It look me way, way back, to last weekend, in a gift shop on the beach, watching the hermit crabs.

Their shells were painted in bright colors, some shells were designed to look like the Green Lantern, soccer balls and others like a hamburger. My kids stood for a good, long while trying to determine which they should take home (hint… none of them).

Hermit crabs have soft abdomens. They cannot exist outside their shells, because any piece of debris might puncture that defenseless body.

Hermit crabs come in a variety of sizes. Once believed to be short-lived pets, hermit crabs can actually live up to 20+ years, but they have to keep moving on up to a larger shell, or they will die, cramped into a space that is too small.

Once thought to be solitary creatures, hermit crabs thrive on community, where crabs line up at a potential new home, largest to smallest. As the largest vacates its shell for a new one, the next crab steps up to take over HIS shell and so on down the line.

We can learn a lot about growth and change and living in a community from hermit crabs. We might also learn from the early Church, but whichever epistemological catalyst works for you….

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:44-47


When you do more than rearrange the furniture, when you throw off things that hinder you (possessions, buildings, unnecessary time drains), growth is possible. Living in community means that the answers to basic needs can be provided. Sometimes it takes stepping out of the safety of your shell to move to the next phase of your development.

What do you have to pass on to the smaller crabs behind you? What big change do you need to step out in faith, today, to make?




33 responses to “Movin’ on up (to the new shell)

  1. I once had crabs (hermit crabs) I would let them wonder around the living room and one day I forgot to leave water and food. They died. Dried up like bacon. LOL.

    What do I want to tell the smaller crabs? Not to be intimidated by the bigger crabs. They may have a big shell, but their underbellies are just as weak as theirs.

    What big change? I need to just act. Too much praying, planning, thinking, hoping. I need more Action!

  2. I’ve never had hermit crabs…
    I’ve only had a dog as a pet….and he got eaten by an gator …some speculate.

    I would tell them to study the past hero’s of faith! study history. Makes us appreciate the present more…

    i need to stop being such a chicken…and go for it!!!! so I would have to step out of fear….into fierce! lol…

    • what big decision are you poised to make? go for it!!

      • To finish our recording….i feel if we finish then, that’s it…there is no turning back and there is no telling what God will do with it…and if I know my God…he is a Big God…so he will Do BIG things with us!…i’m just afraid of it… kinda of those….”be careful what you wish” for kinda things…you know?…

  3. Your hermit crab illustration is such a perfect picture of the church. I feel like there are so many times when people stagnate in their ministry and are unwilling to move on the the next thing. As long as they hold on to the old job they are keeping someone else from growing to their potential. I see the church as a dynamic body, with a lot of motion and action. I may complain that it is hard to find that sweet old lady willing to give twenty years to the Sunday School anymore (because drumming up help is a challenge!) but in reality I’d rather have a big turn over every few years. (So long as the people leaving move to minister in a new place that continues to challenge them.)

  4. I’m working on a change of my space. I’m getting ready to share everything in my life with someone. As much as I want it, I also realize that it’s been a long time since I’ve had to do that. I love my solitude and my alone time. It’s going to stretch me to learn to share willingly and not out of obligation.

    I’m looking forward to it though! It’s going to be awesome.

    • this is the most awesome thing I’ve read all day. Awesome. you’re gonna find your need for solitude can be satisfied with a book and a potty break, I think 😉

  5. Dude, I feel like you are writing about my life! A huge life change is underway right now and I have no idea where it’s going to lead me but I do know it will enable me to spend more time writing and focusing on the things I love.

    As far as what I’ve taught the smaller crabs is that taking a leap of faith is absolutely worth it. We don’t need to settle for less or stay put in situations that make us miserable. My decision to move to Nashville inspired a few other people to make drastic changes. One even became a missionary, something she was on the fence about until she heard my story. How cool is that?

  6. The big step I need to take in my life now is to start looking in other provinces for work (teaching), since there are no jobs in my own area. I don’t know why, but this scares me – applying for jobs, being interviewed, etc. I guess it’s because it’s been so long since I’ve interviewed for a job. I’m not overly fearful of going to another province – I did move away to South Korea for a year. Anyway, it’s something I need to do now…because this is the time of year they hire for September!

  7. A big change? My wife and I are exploring schooling options for our oldest. Not sure if I’m ready for that right now. 😦

    • Oh, bother! That is such a HARD decision. We’ve got one more year of preschool and then we need to pull the trigger: public school (and if so, which one?), private school, or homeschool (probably the least likely option). No matter what, you guys are awesome parents. She’s got a huge leg up in the department no matter what choice you make.

  8. school decisions make my head explode. don’t know what to do about that

  9. good for you for not buying your kids hermit crabs 🙂

  10. Kristin, that image just really creeps me out. It’s like Grateful Dead meets hermit crabs meets prison??

    This post is very dense, as in full of lead, heavy, DEEEEEEEP. 🙂

    First off, this is just cute: “As the largest vacates its shell for a new one, the next crab steps up to take over HIS shell and so on down the line.” But, such a cool picture about how the body of Christ SHOULD work-that we should be continually discipling others and growing and changing to reflect more and more of His character.

    Also love this: “When you do more than rearrange the furniture, when you throw off things that hinder you (possessions, buildings, unnecessary time drains), growth is possible.” In my case, the change that needs to occur actually is a throwing off of things. I really need to clean out some closests and just get the house a little more organized. Our garage is a monstrosity. And, I feel like all of the chaos really is starting to affect my ability to focus and be at peace in my own home. It’s not like I’m a hoarder or anything. And, most people think our house isn’t even cluttered, but it’s just enough that it bugs me and wastes energy.

    • Grateful Crustaceans! awesome band

      As my friend Traci mentioned, that’s exactly how discipleship is supposed to work, raising up those who come behind us to grow to a new position of service and leadership.

      Get rid of it!! I need to simplify my stashes of junk and weed through more than too many toys and clothes and things that my kids accumulate

  11. I was expecting “shell” to mean something like “mask” when I read the first paragraph. It also helped that i hadn’t seen the picture of the crabs yet.

    Hermit crabs can also teach us how to be flexible. Not my favorite color of shell? Not my favorite style? Well, I can either suck it up and get in the shell that’s available to me, or I can die from getting eaten by a bird without my shell. Yeah, I think I’ll suck it up.

  12. Sometimes I forget that I have experiences, stories, and wisdom that I can pass on to younger pastors. Probably because I still feel like a young pastor myself. But I’ve been a pastor for 12 years and I need to be more aware of what some of the newer ones might need that I can help provide.

  13. Pingback: The Voice: Three Ingredients of Christian Growth | Pop Parables

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