Change never hurts?until it gets personal.
When you think about it, that?s how 99% of us think about change. Maybe we won?t admit it, and maybe we don?t think about it congruently just like that in our minds, but it?s the sentiment we feel when someone begins to change something we believe in or have invested in.
In the church, we have even more problems admitting that we don?t like change. You see, I think deep down we know that God is a God of transformation and change. We know that in order to fall under His will and continuously walk in that will, change has to happen on several levels:
- We have to change our minds and hearts.
- We have to change our attitudes toward others both inside and outside of our ministry.
- We have to change how we do what we do.
We know that, but we often either put it off or simply refuse to make the necessary changes because of how others will perceive our change and react to it when it gets personal.
The reality? The people that are the most resistant to change often have a good reason. A natural reaction when they see the things they?ve spent time, money, sweat, and tears building is to push back. Often times, the people that are resistant to the change at first are the ones that will help bring it about eventually.[quote]Often times, the people that are resistant to the change at first are the ones that will help bring it about eventually.[/quote]
Here are some thoughts on leading through general change in leadership, but especially in the church…
Put Their Toes in the Water
Every time most of us get in a pool, we put our toe in first. We do this so that we can slowly warm up to the water temperature. It keeps us from having that gasp of surprise when we jump into the cool water.
It?s the same way when leading change. Don?t do it all at once. Sure, you have the vision and you?re excited about it, but the people you lead are just hearing about it. Put their toes in the water. Let them know it?s going to be okay, and then roll out the changes slowly. Let them adapt to one before trying the next. If you just push them right in, you?re going to get a lot of push-back and fallout. Ease them into it, little-by-little.
As leaders, we often forget the value of feedback. When leading change, it can sometimes be tempting to devalue or discredit negative feedback by saying, ?They just don?t want to follow leadership.? That may be so, but they may have valid reasons as well. Let people you trust gather around you and give their true opinion.[quote]Let people you trust gather around you and give their true opinion.[/quote]
Remember when Jesus asked his disciples, ?Who do people say that I am?? We need to be willing to listen to honest feedback just like Jesus. Allow people to gather around you. Their feedback may lead to a breakthrough for you.
Make it Flash
Why do the lights outside of a fire department flash? It?s to get your attention and make it obvious that something important could happen at any moment.
We love to talk about vision when it comes to leadership, but I think we often fail to communicate vision when it comes to change. For some reason, we want to keep things secret and ?unveil? things in a big way. Sure, that?s fine at times. But ultimately, the more vision we can communicate the better. The more plain and obvious we can make it that we?re up to something big and it?s going to help get the mission of our organization accomplished the better. People are less resistant when they see the need for the change. Make it flash. Paint a picture of the present, but flash the future over and over.[quote]People are less resistant when they see the need for the change. Make it flash.[/quote]
Watch Your Math
When we begin to take away or remove things, it always causes defenses to go up. That?s why it?s important that, when it comes to change, we make it more about addition and multiplication than subtraction. Let people see how less may be more or how different will be better. Let them see that you aren?t shrinking back opportunities or effectiveness, but you?re seeking to multiply them. This will keep them from falling off if their ?thing? is taken away.
Connect the Dots
Remember connect the dots? You?d start at one place, draw a line, and slowly see the picture as you went from beginning to end.
Connect everything back to the overall purpose of your organization and the result of the finished product of the changes. Sure, you may not have shown everyone the whole thing yet, but you?ve shown them the vision for the change. Tie the changes back to it. This makes it seem less like you?re flying by the seat of your pants or picking out favorites and lets them slowly see the project come into focus.[quote]Connect everything back to the overall purpose of your organization and the result of the finished product of the changes.[/quote]
I?m convinced people can handle change; we just need to be intentional about introducing it. Let?s let people through and see them jump on board.