Most of us have a love-hate relationship with change. We love it when it clearly benefits us or when we think everyone else needs to change for our sake. But when change robs us of that secure attachment to the familiar or when it’s forced on us against our will, it’s an easy thing to resent. Here are a set of suggestions for walking people through change – anxieties and all.
- Always emphasize mission over preference.
In healthy ministries, the mission answers the question as to why changes are needed, not the status quo or people’s personal preferences or the leader’s insecurities. Change should always be tied to mission.
- Pace changes wisely and realistically.
Too much change can ruin good change. Changing the systems too often can keep them from ever taking root in the ministry culture and becoming effective.
- Assess the real reasons for resistance to change.
More often than not, people resist change because the process for bringing about change is flawed.
- Create a sense of urgency.
People will change either because they want to or because they have to. Urgency can be a powerful motivator.
- Build a team of influencers to champion the change.
It’s difficult, if not impossible, for a leader to change an entire ministry culture alone.
- Build ownership by letting people participate in the planning.
When we walk people through change, our goal isn’t for them to reluctantly submit out of respect for our authority but to be enthusiastically committed to the change.
- Remember that behaviors change faster than personalities.
Changing a ministry’s culture is usually a long process, but behaviors are easier to change and are therefore usually the best starting points for bringing change.
- Never forget the power of trust.
Trust is the foundation of our relationship with Christ and the essential ingredient in any healthy human relationship. It is also the one non-negotiable for leading a group of people through change.
Adapted from Lead So Others Can Follow by Dr. James T. Bradford. For more enlightening lessons on leadership, join Dr. Bradford, our guest speaker, for Minister’s Enrichment on October 2–4, 2017.