Congregational leaders need to be bold masters at graciously navigating change. It’s essential to faithfully living out the vision that God has for your congregation—or people will never be touched with the love of Jesus!
Members prefer to cast their vote for “no change” and champion the elusive status quo, until they realize the enormous short-sightedness and self-centeredness of their convictions. And then they still resist change.
- The sense of loss is too great.
- Fear of the unknown is too daunting.
- Faith is too small.
Leaders have to master this stuff! Most leaders and most churches suffer greatly because leaders never master this.
So, everybody knows there’s a lot wrong with the church today. Right? And there’s plenty wrong with your congregation, too, right?
But, as a leader, why not lead with saying “thank you” to the folks who got us this far?
I don’t think we gain a lot by leading with, “Here’s what you did wrong!”
“Thank you” says that what they did counted.
In fact, this is a common mistake of leaders who do the right stuff. They…
- Paint a picture of a future vision that God is birthing.
- Clarify why we can’t stay here.
- Clearly mark out the first few steps going forward.
These leaders get what most leaders never figure out. But, (and here’s the mistake) they make it sound like all of the service and sacrifice and generosity and loving and dirty hands that have gone before didn’t count…when they never intended to signal such. In my enthusiasm to live out the mission of God in the congregation Gail and I served for many years, I cast vision, shared why we can’t stay, and offered first steps (quite well sometimes!). But too often I unwittingly signaled, “Everything you did before? It didn’t count. What we’re going to do next… This counts.”
I never intended it to sound like, “So, here’s what you did wrong…”
It would have been so much better for me to say “thank you” more frequently and with more appreciation.
You see, eventually, there are folks who come behind our boldness and our vision and our sacrifice who can easily say: “So, let me tell you what you did wrong…”
A final word:
My guess is that you’ve likely heard a bit too much of the “here’s what you did wrong” and not enough “thank you.” I’m guessing it’s robbing you of some of the joy that should inhabit this season of your leadership. And your courage is being compromised with weak resignation when there may be no one better than you to lead your congregation forward into this new mission reality that exists all around us.
So much can happen when we can exchange compromised courage for a posture that says, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is now ready to listen.”
PLI is pleased to walk alongside servants like this.