Five Keys to Successful Change

A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, it was an amazing conference. Not only did I get to hear from some of the most brilliant minds in church leadership, I walked away with a ton of books. And most of you know that I love my books, and free ones at that.

For the last couple years this one book has been sharing me in the face as it quietly sits on my bookshelf, the Catalyst groupzine volume 1. Today I walked over and pulled it off the shelf and read the first chapter and I immediately knew that I hit gold. Andy Stanley had written an article on how to “challenge the process.” I was intrigued by how I naturally tender most of his five points in my leadership style. As I think about how I function within the chain of command, I look at  it like this “I’m on a ship, I have a place withing the leadership, and the senior pastor is the captain of this ship.” I know what you’re thinking right now…”you’re just romanticizing the idea of church leadership,” perhaps I am. But for me it works, and I expand my influence by being respectful and subordinate, not to mention the fantastic relationships I made through the process.

let’s take a quick gander at what Andy Stanley says about this….

1. When an instruction if given, follow through; debrief later.

Basically, don’t challenge right away. It’s always going to be a “Yes, Captain” and perhaps a “can we meet privately?” I guess this is something I ultimately learned from my father. He would always give me opportunities to harness leaderships skills, I called them chores. At the end of the day, just obeying commands and asking “why” later always tendered better results.

2. Never verbalize your frustration with the process in front of other team members.

This should be a given; never, never, never do this! You’ll lose more than your bargained for. Respect from your supervisor.

3. Don’t confuse your insights with moral imperatives.

Basically don’t disagree for argue sake. Just because you think you have all the answers doesn’t mean that you do. Key word there is think. Think about what your opinion really is and worth rocking the boat?

4. If don’t learn to lead under, you probably won’t have as many opportunities to lead over.

Simple case of preform well with what little you have, think parable of the talents. You need to recognize authority and remain accountable to it.  You’re not better than the chain of command, it will always exist, even when you’re gone. Respect!

5. When you can’t follow, then it’s time to get off the team.

I’ve had my fair share of leading those who can’t follow, and honestly this is the hardest leadership challenge I’ve come across. What would happen if the captain of a ship gave and order and the executive officer said “no, I have a better way, stand aside.” That would be a fast trip to the brig (jail). You would be dismissed, quickly at that. Same in the context of church leadership, people need to respect the chain of command. To reach the goal it requires team unity and a focused effort. Learn.

You can learn a ton by instituting respect among your peers and supervisors. If you truly want to succeed your roll in leadership you would look at these five points and commit them to memory. Perhaps one day when you’re the captain of a ship you will recognize the five points of “challenging change” within your impact zone.


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