Change Will Do You Good. (No it Won’t)

I have had more than my fair share of change recently. In the last two years we have become empty nesters, we became grandparents, we moved across the continent, I changed jobs, Sherry changed jobs, I changed jobs again, we moved half way across the continent, and I changed jobs (again). We are renting our third house, living in our third state and attending our third church all in less time then it took me to finish 3rd grade.

So what am I learning about change?

First thing I’m learning is that change is really hard. Although we were only in California for a year we made great friends and were beginning to sink deep roots. It has been very hard to start over again here in Denver. It turns out that change is painful every time. And it’s ok to recognize it. It’ ok to say, “This really sucks and I don’t like it at all.” Early on in ministry when we only moved every 14 years instead of every 14 months I thought that change was fun and cool and painless. I’ve discovered that change is only fun, cool and painless if you are changing other people’s lives. When you are the one who has to change it is a pain in the keester.

So if you are going through change don’t feel bad if you are struggling. Your change may be a new baby, a new job or a new city, and everyone around you may be thrilled to death about the change. Don’t be afraid to say, “I know I’ll get there, but right now this change is really hard.”

And if you are changing other people’s lives recognize how difficult this is for them. The next time I hear a leader brag about how they are going to blow up everything in their organization and their people “will just have to deal with it” I’m going to whack them up side the head. Then the leader will know what unexpected change feels like.

Here’s three quick ways to help people deal with change:

  1. Make those effected a part of creating the change. A phrase I learned from Dale Carnegie that I go back to again and again, “People will support a world they help create.”
  2. Talk to people privately before you announce change publicly. It is dishonoring to the people you work with to not give them a chance to process change in a private setting. Few things will kill morale more effectively in an organization then a leader who loves to spring new things in large groups. It is fun for the leader it is demoralizing for the followers.
  3. Give people time to work through change. People process at different speeds and in different settings. Understand the wiring of the people you work with and give them the necessary space to come along for the ride.

Change is necessary, change is often good, and change is a reality of life. But no matter how many times you change it is always tough. That’s all I have time for today, its time to move again. (Just kidding, we aren’t going to move again for at least 3 more months)

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Geoff Surratt
Geoff has served on the leadership teams at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church, and as Managing Director of Exponential. He is the author of several books, including Together: A Guide for Couples in Ministry written with his wife Sherry. Along with writing, Geoff coaches churches and leaders around the U.S. and in Europe. Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado. Twitter: @geoffsurratt

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