I’m often asked to address the subject of change and how it can be managed. Yesterday, at the Christian Resources Exhibition in Exeter, I addressed a group of over 100 bright-eyed and motivated people (all the more amazing as it was in the after lunch graveyard slot!) on the subject of leading for change. I am interested, though not surprised, that this subject always creates an audience, not least in voluntary and non-profit organisations.
Consequently, I plan to do some posts on the subject of change and how it can be managed. Obviously, this will relate to churches, but it will also have some value for anyone who is tasked with overseeing change wherever they are. Here goes…
The first thing is obvious, but often missed by leaders who are introducing change. Ask yourself this question, “As I seek to lead change, what am I modelling in my own life about an openness to change?” It’s “practise what you preach” stuff.
Crucial to answering this question is our sense of identity. For me, I asked myself this: “When I am feeling insecure about my leadership, where do I try to borrow strength from?” The temptation for a bishop is to look to position, or the historic authority of the calling – or even clothing! Some seek to borrow a kind of intimidating strength from their intelligence or from their qualifications. It becomes clear that those of us who lead in historic vocations can easily click into this stuff, forgetting that real authority comes from WHO I am, not WHAT I am. And that of course keys into your identity in Christ if you are a Christian.
This is not about disregarding the roles we have been given to be pointlessly (and usually sadly) “relevant”. We have been given them for a reason and we need to be responsible about according them some dignity. It is about modelling what you are seeking to do. That takes confidence; and confidence requires courage; and courage is a key component in the task of leading change. That is why supportive teams are such a help in the change process. It requires some reflective thought around the question, “How could I do this work in such a way that it models the change required.” For me, it meant abandoning my natural instincts when feeling threatened or insecure to borrow strength from externals.
Jesus said that, ”Nothing outside you can defile you by going into you. Rather it is what comes out fo you that defiles you.” People who are seeking to lead change need to learn ways to model it and to remind themselves of this Dominical gem. Over to you!