I’ve seen a lot of change in 17 years of ministry: Change in ministry focus, style, music, age, my personal point of view and so much more. I’ve led a lot of change as well. My first official ministry role was creating a worship team in a fledgling young adults ministry. When I came to Clarendon Hills I was charged with leading our worship to the next level of artistic expression and excellence. I led our church to move off-site for a season when it wasn’t particularly necessary. I led our worship team from serving in a 180-seat (in pews) sanctuary to a 400-seat portable-church/gym to a 720-seat auditorium where our platform was the same size as our former sanctuary.
I’ve heard the only constant in life is change. It is important to know how to lead change well. What I’ve learned can be distilled to three words: Inform, Integrity, Influence.
Inform: As a leader of your home, your carpool, your little league, a civic organization, business or church, information is key if you want to change. You need to be able to paint an accurate picture of where we are at, where the world is at and where we need to go.
- The truth about where we are at can be brutal. It can mean being honest with the realities that what we’re doing now will not work when we get where we’re going. It can mean being real about processes that are limping along and need revamping or are in need of new leadership and oversight.
- Speaking about the world outside of the tribe you lead gives you a foundation for how your group is going to make a difference. Making a difference, creating change, is why your tribe exists.
- Being able to speak vividly and with passion about where you are going is more than just dreaming. Your ideas have to be actionable and even quantifiable. How will you know you’ve arrived? What will you do when you get where you are going? What will you look like? What will it feel like? What will you accomplish?
Integrity: When I started at the Christian Church of Clarendon Hills, I was encouraged to build leadership credibility. Leading is not just words and cheerleading. It is living out the change you want to see. Integrity is letting your yes be yes and your no be no. It is keeping the vision in front of your tribe and living in the reality you want to see. When you paint that picture with actions in your own life, it is easier for the fire of your vision to consume those looking to you for leadership. When you do this, your leadership credibility increases, people trust you with their time, talent and treasure and they are more likely to join you on the front lines of change.
Influence: One of the few books I’ve read and re-read is Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. While the content of that book is not necessarily applicable here, the title is. Stick to the fight. Have the hard discussions. Realize that you impact people. Don’t change course. Correct if necessary, but follow the call to its completion. Speak about it. Show it. Get people living it out. Tell their stories. Celebrate the milestones. Repeat.
Fostering a mind for fresh vision is important. Some goals are short-term blasts that move you forward quickly. Others goals, like a change in culture and identity, mean having habits in place to foster new and fresh visions for your tribe so as one goal comes to a completion, the next milestone is in place and the process of change starts again.
Andy Stanley says ‘vision leaks’. I couldn’t agree more. People are busy. From different personalities to competing values to hiccups that can put your forward progress on pause, the dynamics of an organization are complex. Keeping your vision fresh in their minds and on repeat is essential to leading successful change.