I was having a conversation with my eight-year-old son, Judah the other day. About a month ago, our family left South Florida and moved to North Texas to join the staff at Prestonwood Baptist Church.
He was sharing about how much he missed Florida – especially his Na Na (my wife, Lauren’s mom). Judah and Na Na have always had a special connection. It’s been precious to watch. Most of the things about our move he has loved, but this along with a couple other things have been really hard on him.
As I was reflecting, I was reminded of the many ripple effects of change – big changes and small changes alike. And, if there’s one thing you and I both know, it’s that change is inevitable. We can fight it. We can delay it. Sooner or later, it’s still going to happen.
I get that it can be a dreadful word. It represents the unknown and the uncharted. We’ve all felt its effects. How we handle it is what matters.
The Key to Growth
In the world of leadership, however, a leader’s ability to change is central to their effectiveness. You see, change is the essence and the evidence of growth. Growing things change. If we’re not changing, we’re not growing.
Look at this quote from a great book I recently finished, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin:
The only meaningful measure for a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails. For all the definitions, descriptions, and characterizations of leaders, there are only two that matter: effective and ineffective. Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission and win. Ineffective leaders do not.
Effective leaders embrace change. They are flexible. They are adaptable. They understand that maturity brings change to their leadership. They don’t get caught up in “the way things were.” They honor the past, but they position for the future. They want to be at their best.
That word embrace is intentional. Change must be embraced then executed. If you try to execute change without embracing it, your leadership will be limp. It will be lacking conviction and feel inauthentic. It must be internalized first!
Measuring Your Response
Here are the three biggest markers I’ve found for gauging how well you’ve embraced change.
1. What you THINK about it.
This is about your perspective. We tend to filter our words, but our thoughts tend to more accurately reflect what’s going on in our hearts. In Scripture, you will find references to having a thought “in your heart.” Proverbs 4 says that we should guard our hearts because everything we do – and think – flows from it.
What are you thinking about the change? What are you thinking about the leaders who made it? Are you externally compliant and internally resistant? If someone could read your thoughts, what would they say?
2. What you SAY about it.
This is about your language. Did “we” make a change or did “they” make a change? How do you talk about the change? How do relay and describe it to your team? Does your language promote unity or division? Does it reveal that you’ve bought in or that you’re broken?
3. What you DO about it.
This is the final marker – your actions and your attitude. What you think and what you say end up manifesting clearly in what you do, and more importantly HOW you do it. Are you cheerful or complaining? Are you wholehearted?
I think it was Napoleon who said, “The secret of war lies in the communications.” If you can disrupt the airways, you can conquer your enemy.
The truth is, what we THINK, SAY, and DO are all airways the enemy tries to disrupt, especially in times of change. So we must communicate early, often, over and over, to make sure that he doesn’t have a foothold.
To be an effective leader, we’ve got to learn to embrace the change that comes our way. The sooner we embrace it, the sooner we learn from it, and the sooner we grow!
Question: Think of a time change impacted your life and ministry. What did you learn about yourself? Leave your comments below!