So, what do you do if you want things to change and pretty much no one else does?
Your team doesn’t appear to be listening.
The leaders or board above you are opposed.
The culture in your organization is stale.
That’s a tough situation in which almost every leader finds themselves from time to time.
Clearly, you should pray. God uses our circumstances to push us closer to him. But what practical responses should you formulate?
Many natural instincts are unhelpful in situations like this. Being impatient, critical, and blaming others is counterproductive.
So what do you do?
There are at least 7 things you can do if you want changes in the church today and no one else does.
1. Cast Vision
Nothing attracts people and resources like vision. And vision always precedes people and resources.
If you’re having trouble attracting people and resources to a better vision of the future, it might be because you simply haven’t cast a clear enough vision of a preferred future.
It eventually becomes difficult not to follow a visionary leader. And if your vision is faithful to scripture and a sensible interpretation of where to head in the future, it will likely be compelling.
Will it always work? No. (See below for that.)
But far too many leaders quit before their vision is even articulated in any kind of compelling way.
You shouldn’t get angry at people for not following a vision you never told them about.You shouldn't get angry at people for not following a vision you never told them about. Click To Tweet
2. List All The Reasons You See For Change
Maybe the change you want to make is obvious to you, but that doesn’t mean others see it.
So list every reason you see for the change. In writing.
You don’t have to show it to anyone. Just write it out for yourself.
This will do two things:
1. You’ll become privately convinced of the strength of your argument. Note: this cuts both ways. If there are few good reasons for the change, you could also talk yourself out of it (which would, of course, relieve your angst).
2. You’ll be more convincing when discussing the change you’d love to see. Not that you’d walk around saying, “And here’s another reason….” But if you’re cogent and make sense in conversation after conversation, you might change the tide of the discussion.
So grab a piece of paper or your Evernote, and make a list.
3. Change Yourself
You’re human. You’ll be tempted to focus only on the changes you’d like to see.
But the best leaders also see a great opportunity in a stalemate. They focus on changing themselves.
A stalemate is a great opportunity to grow in character and skill. If you become the healthiest, most self-aware, kindest team member, people will be attracted to you and what you have to say.
And you won’t be as busy trying to change them, which might be a nice turn of events in some cases.When you're frustrated that things aren't changing, change yourself. Click To Tweet
4. Change What You Can
So you can change yourself. And the best leaders will do that.
But there are probably some things you can also change. And yes, you’ll be tempted to rail against the things you can’t change. But again, why focus on that?
Ask yourself this: What can I change?
You’re in charge of something. Change it.
You might argue that you don’t have permission to change anything.
Sure you do. You can change the culture. Even if you’re in charge of a volunteer team of 5, make them the five best-loved people in the church or organization. Create a super healthy team. Accomplish all you can accomplish. Do everything you’re capable of doing. Even a little more.
Others might sit up and take notice, realizing everyone would be better off if they did what you’re doing.
And even if no one notices, the five people you work with will notice. And they’ll be so thankful for it.
5. Publicly and Privately Support the Team
So you’ve got some personal growth happening, and you’ve changed whatever is within your control.
You’ll still be tempted to rail against the leadership that just doesn’t get it.
Or you’ll be publicly loyal but privately critical—all smiles during the meeting but venomous over coffee.
Integrity would demand that you be the same in public and in private.
Plus, it’s a decent strategy. As Andy Stanley says, public loyalty buys you private leverage. When a leader knows you’ve been supportive, they’re more likely to listen to you, even if what you have to say (to their face) is critical.
If you’ve got an issue with someone, share it with that person directly. Otherwise, keep quiet.Public loyalty buys you private leverage. @AndyStanley Click To Tweet
6. Weigh Your Options
Does this always turn out well? No, it doesn’t.
But churches (and every organization) would be so much healthier if people followed the course above.
So what happens if you’ve done all this and more and, still, nothing changes?
At this point, I think you weigh your options. You need to decide whether you can live within a glass ceiling (things above you will likely not change) or whether it’s time to move on.
This is the time to prayerfully weigh your options, call wise counsel and get them to give you advice and look at the pros and cons of staying v going.
When things don’t change, it might be time for you to make a change.
If it helps, I outlined five signs it’s time to move on in this post.When things don't change, it might be time for you to make a change. Click To Tweet
7. Make a Decision
Too many leaders I know get stuck in perpetual discontent because they refuse to make a decision.
When I ask them how long they’ve been disgruntled, they’ll often tell me ‘for years’ or ‘since the beginning.’ Really? Then why are you still there?
Either make peace with the limits you see or move on.
The key is to make a decision. Decide to stay or decide to leave.
If you stay, accept the limits and play within them. Do all you can with all you can influence and control but know you’ve settled for something less than you once hoped for.
Or you might head into the brave frontier of the unknown.
Either way, decide. Because either way, you’ll be happier than you would be if you simply stay perpetually frustrated.