My introvert really comes out on planes. I have trouble hearing sometimes, especially with a lot of background noise, so I'm that guy who reads on airplanes. On our flight for vacation I was able to read something by one of my favorite authors. Seriously, I don't ever read a book, blog, or article by Carey Nieuwhof where I don't have an assumption challenged or learn something incredibly useful.
His book Leading Change Without Losing It caught my attention at a conference last year so I grabbed a copy of it. It's personal because we're in the midst of what can best be described as a 5-7 year effort to lead our church into its next chapter of becoming multigenerational. So I wanted to draw out from Nieuwhof as much as I could to be a help.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough to pastors or ministry leaders who are gripped by a vision, a dream, an idea of what the future could hold if we could only get there. Those dreams are what keep us awake at night and going in the day. Those dreams are why week in and week out we pour our lives into people, because we have a sense of what is going to come.
Rather than give away everything, I want to emphasize two things that really stood out: doing math and not giving up.
One of the inevitable things about leadership and especially in leading change (which go hand in hand -- you're not truly leading unless you're making change) is that you'll get blowback. But Nieuwhof reminds us all that louder ≠ more. Jon Acuff famously called it "critics math" where we hear 1 insult + 1000 compliments = 1 insult. But the reality is, only a few are going to be against change -- it might require them to sacrifice, they may hold onto the past, they might rather be comfortable. And just because they may be loud doesn't mean they're many. In fact, Nieuwhof drops a bomb when he asks if we're willing to sacrifice reaching 10,000 people in the name of keeping 10 people happy?
The other thing is simple: don't give up. We're too influenced by our microwaves and Netflix, where we want what we want immediately because we've been socially conditioned to getting it. But any lasting, institutional, cultural change in a church is going to take time. And it's going to take time to reach the critical breakthrough moment where the momentum has shifted towards the healthy changes, processes, and culture. As one pastor I know said, it takes eating a lot of pie, time he spent talking with people about a needed change that would run up against significant pushback. It took much longer than he wanted, but it happened. The change we want to see happen to come back to the dream that we have is gong to be a marathon, not a sprint. And we can't simply jump ship when it gets hard or when we don't see immediate results week to week.
Thanks Carey for a great book. I hope others will find it as useful.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.