Bobby Gruenewald: “A culture of change creates an environment where impatience, fear and feeling overwhelmed have trouble taking hold.”
I love when big vision hits, that moment when God brings forth a new idea or a crazy dream and my mind starts racing with all of the possibilities. After we explore it as a team and it becomes clear this is something God is calling us to do, the exhilaration grows.
For the next few weeks, this new idea becomes my favorite thing to talk about. The excitement returns with each discussion, and it feels like a gift, to be entrusted with bringing this vision to life.
If you’ve felt this same exhilaration, then maybe you’ve also experienced what can sometimes come next: sabotage.
I’m not talking about the kind of sabotage involving corporate spies or a dramatic derailment. This is the kind of subversion that comes from within: impatience, fear and feeling overwhelmed.
When thinking about a big challenge, many people get invigorated by the opportunity to pursue it—at least at first. But when we see the time it’s going to take to make it happen, we can find ourselves growing impatient with the process. Our sense of urgency clashes with the reality of our team’s time or resources. As the frustration grows, we lose our sense of enchantment and we’re tempted to give up.
Big ideas can be intimidating, which, for some, balloons into debilitating fear. We fear we won’t have the time, money or team we need; that people won’t like the outcome; or that we’ll fail in our execution. Our fear of the unknown displaces our faith that God will bring his resources to his vision. We lose our “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1).
Big ideas bring a big rush. But even before that surge of energy has subsided, some people begin to feel overwhelmed. As we grasp the enormity of the task at hand, we can’t see a way to make it all happen. What started out feeling like a gift now feels like a burden resting entirely on our shoulders instead of in God’s hands. Our limitations eclipse our desire to see this vision come to life, and paralysis sets in.
These different issues might arise within us or they might come from the people around us. Either way, the enemy knows just the right tactic (or combination of tactics) to thwart our progress in pursuing God’s vision.
As church leaders, this isn’t entirely surprising. We know we’ll encounter resistance when we’re advancing the kingdom, and we know it will take faith and perseverance to get us through those trials.
Most of us have probably developed different ways we weather these waves of struggle. But I believe there might be one key asset many of us miss: Change, or more accurately, a culture of change, creates an environment where impatience, fear and becoming overwhelmed have trouble taking hold.
A Culture of Change
As we consider the work of bringing big ideas to life, they usually require some kind of change. And we can tend to think of that change as a noun: a new facility, a move, an outreach or an online initiative. When the change has taken place, we check it off the list as done. Our instinct is to take a deep breath and sit back to recover from all it took to make it happen.
But what I’m talking about is change as a verb. When it’s part of our culture, change becomes our organizational pulse. We change, and we change, and we change again. We don’t stop after we’ve made one big change, because we know that’s precisely the moment our culture is most malleable. Our teams and our church start to accept change as the norm—“it’s just the way we do things around here.”
Instead of struggling with impatience, leaders with a change bias know change is a muscle to be exercised. As that muscle develops, leaders grow familiar with the process and confident in the outcome
A culture of change also makes it difficult for fear to thrive. Instead of getting hung up with potential failures, change-friendly organizations will assemble a résumé of change. It will undoubtedly include some failures, but in a healthy organization those misses will be overshadowed by many wins.
And for team members who might otherwise become overwhelmed, a culture of change brings helpful momentum. Where they used to feel the full weight of the process and progress of major projects, now they are supported by an environment where change happens regularly. They’ve been a successful contributor to big changes before and have seen God’s faithfulness firsthand.
If your church has seen big vision fall apart in the past, the culprit was likely not your destination, but rather where you began. When we start from a consistent, ongoing approach of meaningful change, we’ll encounter less resistance when we pursue big vision. A culture of change is a hallmark of a healthy organization, and something you can begin to cultivate today.