Change is a constant in life, right?
A guy I used to work for and respect greatly said “One thing you can be sure of is that this organization will continue to change…” He was saying this in relation to my career aspirations with the intent of trying to get me focused on the bigger picture vs. setting short-sighted goals. You know what? It stuck with me many years later!
I’ve heard it said that death (medically speaking) is when the body ceases to change.
Sobering thought, especially if you are someone who simply doesn’t like to deal with change!
Well, let’s take a moment and outline what we do know about change based on what God has revealed about Himself (courtesy of Jerry Gillis in one of our staff meetings a few years ago). The creator of all things probably knows a little something about change, right?
- God is unchanging and that can be relied on. He is perfect and doesn’t need to change.
- God is a God of order. He brought order out of chaos.
- God is (at the same time) a God of chaos. He created the chaos and began the change process to bring about order.
- To follow Christ implies change. A new nature and a life focused on becoming more like Him daily inherently means to change.
If change is inevitable, how do we posture ourselves to it?
Fighting change to avoid it leads to fairly consistent results – stagnation, marginalization, etc. Those who resist change will oftentimes be considered obsolete or unnecessary over time. Get on the bus, or be left behind.
Some may think they can avoid change, that it won’t affect them, or it will eventually go away in time. This has fairly consistent results as well – diminished added value over time (whether personally or organizationally).
In both resisting and ignoring, there is an implied fear of taking risk. Change always involves risk (as does decision-making in general). As you can see in both cases, lack of change involves high risk as well!
Change is not an end in itself. Change for the sake of change is of limited value. Change should always have purpose and we need to discipline change so it is purposeful.
What does this look like in our lives?
Personally – Are there areas in my life I need to pay attention to that require change? How self-aware am I in this regard? Am I being prepared for something? Is there something in my heart that needs changing? Am I using my time, talent and resources in a God-honoring way?
Organizationally – Am I efficient as a leader? Am I developing my team effectively? How can I help others grow and develop? Are there new ideas or innovations I need to be considering? Do I have margin to identify and be sensitive to these things?
Once you can identify the area to focus your change energy, make a plan and prioritize accordingly. I have on multiple occasions reflected on the fact that if I simply gave the same level of energy and priority to personal areas of change as I do to organizational areas of change, I would see a lot more success in that space.
I also regularly look for opportunities to encourage the team I am responsible for to be more and more comfortable with ongoing change. Be willing to try some new things and not assume that it needs to stay that way forever more. We can tweak things as we go, learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others and try to find what works best for us at the time…and that may change in the future!
I believe a culture and spirit of innovation is a key aspect of effective change and will spend some time in a future post to further outlining my thoughts in that regard.
How do you respond to change?