People will change only if they believe that a new insight, a new idea, or a new form helps them become more of who they are.
- Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science, 2nd edition (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1999), 148.)
This quote comes from Lovett H. Weems, Jr's pdf called "50 Quotations to Help Lead Change in Your Church. I am going to use some of these 50 quotes to spur some blog posts on leadership and change from my experiences in Revland.
Often time in the midst of change people fear that it will change who they are. Change does this but not at a core level. What makes us who we are at our core is essential to who we are and that is what we fear might change when something new happens.
When I became a father I really wasn’t nervous about the change coming to our family. My wife and I were excited about this “something new” coming into our lives. I had no clue what was in store for me as a new father but I knew I was excited about it. Now, having two children, I tell soon-to-be fathers and mothers that the best way to describe it is to put your life down on a piece of paper. Take that piece of paper and get in your car. Drive your car down the highway at 70mph. Then open your window and throw your paper/life out the window. Once a child enters your life, it is never the same. Everything is different but you never want it to go back.
The act of change scares many people because they are worried it will effect everything. The truth is though, while everything changed for me when I had a child and now children, I am still me. I have different roles to play now. Life is different but I am still me. In fact I feel I am more me now then when I was single or newly married. When the kids move away and it is just my wife and I again, things will change but I will still be me.
As a congregation moves through change one of the biggest things that clergy should pay attention to is what makes that church … that church. What is its core values. What draws people in and connects them to God. When you define those core values then you can freely do different things, reminding people along the way the core values never change it just may be done differently.
Too often this gets left out of the conversation or pushed to the back burner. Instead we should concentrate on those values, preach them, celebrate them, honor them and then remind them, preach them, celebrate them, honor them as change happens. This will allow the church as a whole to take the journey together and not feel like they will lose themselves along the way. Then they will be excited about the new thing because it will help them become more of who they are.
The Rev. Jim Parsons is pastor of Indian Trail United Methodist Church in Indian Trail, NC. He blogs at Adventures in Revland.