Growing Gracefully

Growing Gracefully

 “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -Leo Tolstoy

“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future” -John F. Kennedy

Great leaders recognize that change is inevitable and certain but that doesn’t mean we all embrace it.

One of the hardest things about living in our world is that everything and everyone is changing. There is a satisfying sense of control when we settle into having things around us which are predictable and reliable. Some of us like to anchor in place and then try to keep everything much the same. It might be wiser to adjust the set of our sails to flow with the changing winds around us.

Studies have shown that we resist change sometimes because our autonomy is impacted and we sense that we are no longer able to exercise our own power to effect a comfortable environment around ourselves. Humans don’t usually like feeling unsafe and moving into the unknown. A clear certain process with simple steps and a timeline help us make those incremental adjustments needed to move forward.

We like to be empowered to voluntarily take the next steps. When decisions are imposed on us suddenly so that we are surprised, it isn’t unusual for us to resist. Planting the seed of an idea and allowing it to grow under our community care is crucial. As creatures of habit, we humans live well with most routines – adjustments can be very discomforting. We don’t like confusion and we seldom like change just for the sake of change. We need to understand the why.

In our mutli-cultural, multi-generational community at Faith there is a strong investment in what we have been familiar with (whether that means the building, the leadership, the style of worship). Leaders responsible for getting us to where we are may feel sensitive about change beyond what they’ve engineered.  We need to celebrate those who have got us to where we are and to show dignity and respect for their faith and sacrifices. We also need to encourage those who are moving us forward.

Skepticism about vague visions of the future is common. Most of us need a lot of information, inclusion, support and assurance when dealing with change. Transitions that move too quickly are unnerving. Being stuck in the middle of change can often feel like a failure and leaders need strong support and affirmation to continue with the additional workload that change brings. Change is disruptive on relationship, programs, stability and resources and some pushback should be expected by those impacted.

All of us have experienced change that didn’t go well and we all have stories that impact what is happening here and now. Unless we experiencing true healing from our past trauma, it is difficult to share enthusiasm for what is currently being experienced. There are real threats with change which result is real pain. This is ultimately what we fight against for none of us desire to experience pain. Just as doctors communicate clearly about procedures and the resulting impact so change facilitators need to clearly share the realities of what change means to those involved.

All of us have fears about change. The key is talking openly about it with those who are involved in leading the change so that a more sensitive transition can be designed. While your input may not stop the change it may adjust the pace of the change. The key for us as a church is to walk through the path of change together under Christ. Our unity will speak volumes to those who are watching us.

Just remember, change or not, you are loved more than you can imagine.

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Dr. Jack Taylor has been in ministry as a pastor and missionary for over 35 years. Two of his four novels have been finalists in the Word Guild awards. He is currently the lead pastor of Faith Fellowship Baptist Church -a multi-cultural church of 50 nations-in Vancouver.

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