Church leaders have the unique task of initiating change in their congregations and ministry teams. This isn’t an easy or simple role, especially when challenges and disagreements are a regular part of the change process. Whenever you are leading change of any kind, it’s vital that you be both patient and intentional.
Any change will include important stakeholders and influencers — these are the people whose say, and resources, are essential to the change. As a leader, it’s wise to give these stakeholders them an opportunity to hear what’s going on in your heart, and to ask questions about it. It’s easy to move forward and tell others what you’re going to do; but true leadership is leading others along the path with you.
Let’s take the issue of women in leadership in church as an example. It would be easy to assume that all women would easily welcome having more female leaders in their church. If you were heralding this kind of change, you might see fit to simply inform your team about the upcoming changes. However, the biggest resistance I have ever had to my own leadership has actually come from other women — especially those who have gone before me.
Surprising? Let’s remember: these are women who have been taught, many times, that women in leadership is wrong. They’ve usually had their own gifts squelched and dismissed, and made to feel guilty for wanting to serve others through a leadership role. It takes time, and clear Biblical teaching, to help them understand your perspective and embrace the changes you are initiating. They may have to ask questions, have multiple meetings and conversations, and work out their own reservations in private.
So we see that patience is fundamental in leading any kind of change. It’s also important to be intentional. Know where you’re going, and patiently lead others along with you. Be patient, and please be intentional.