The timing of a change is almost as important as the change itself. Here are some key signs you’re ready.
Timing is a beast. As a leader, it’s one of the most important things you can master, but it’s also one of the most elusive. Jim Morrison once said, “I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments.” I can relate to that. But when you’re leading a church there’s so much at stake, and recovering from some mistakes is long and painful. So here’s a look at five indicators that it may be time to step out and start that change you’ve been thinking about:
1. You feel a genuine nudge from God.
I know, I know—you can say this about anything. And many leaders have abused this one. “God told me …” That’s why it’s so important to discern whether God is pushing for this change or just me. In my own experience, the two clarifying questions are: (1) What do my mentors think? and (2) Have I slept on it? As a church leader, the last thing you want to do is rush into the wrong change effort at the wrong time.
2. The problem is obvious.
I mentioned this in my last article on this subject, but it deserves repeating. If people don’t sense a need for the change I’m introducing, it is definitely NOT the right time. It may be the right thing. But if it’s not the right time, it’s not going to be embraced, and it will turn out to be the wrong thing. The issue with misreading your timing on a big change effort is that you can’t easily resurrect the solution. People’s memories are far too good for that. So make sure the problem has been defined and communicated—and that it hurts enough to warrant the change.
3. Your core team is unified.
Some teams are fractured from false starts. Nothing makes a change effort succeed wildly like a sold out team. That’s why it’s important to gauge the commitment level of the people you’re leading with before you pull the trigger. In my own life I find that I’ve been thinking about a particular initiative every day for hours, sometimes for weeks or months on end. And then I expect someone who just heard about it to be as enthusiastic as I am about it. But that’s not realistic. We need to give our teams the advantage of perk time, and an opportunity to get their questions answered. I’ve found that their questions make the plan better, and their support brings strength back into our efforts.
4. You have a plan.
As they say, “Prior proper planning prevents poor performance.” How does your plan look? Has it passed the test of scrutiny by your most trusted leaders? Are you holding it as a guide and not as a god? Remember, plans change but visions stay the same. Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. Your plan should be a smart but flexible guide that navigates toward your goal. It should answer people’s questions ahead of time. And it should invite the maximum possible participation.
5. Your tank is full.
There’s nothing like beginning a road trip with an empty tank. Bad idea. Even parents know that kids can see the gas gauge from the back seat. If you’re not prepared, people will know. There’s no glory in “faking it ’til you make it.” That kind of leadership is manipulative and potentially dangerous. Jesus’ church deserves better. As hard as it is to wait, when you don’t have the resources to pursue an opportunity, it’s not the right time. The two gauges to watch are Energy and Cash. Building up some margin in those two areas will build confidence on your team, especially with those who are more risk-averse.
I’m hoping these five indicators will save you some pain and give you some strength as you step out to lead in your God-given assignment.
Gabe Kolstad is the lead pastor of Westside Community Church in Beaverton, Oregon, a certified trainer with Church Leader Insights and an advanced coaching expert with Nelson Searcy. This article was originally published on GabeKolstad.com.