Why we resist change.
This summer, here in Wisconsin, we lived through a bizarre time of change with our football team – the Green Bay Packers (perhaps you have heard of them!). We changed our Quarterbacks! The old one retired and the heir apparent took over… until the older one “un-retired”. What a mess ensued. Many fans could not move on and resisted the management’s commitment to the new player – a bright player who was the “understudy” for three years. Well, fast forward to Sept 15, 2008 and the team is 2-0 and most people now like the change!!
Someone has well said in regards to change that
“the enemy you know is better than the stranger that you don’t know”.
I see this everyday on my job at Wal-Mart. I think most of my fellow employees would admit that this is not their dream job or moving to Wal-Mart was not a “career move”. But, nevertheless, they have stayed on year after year after year… because of the fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown paralyzes most of us, truth be told. No one really likes entering a dark room during the middle of the night!
To re-phrase the well known quote: “The lousy job I have is better than the good job I don’t have.”
Change Agents Swim Upstream
Remember when they used to believe during the Middle Ages that the world was FLAT! and that (supposedly) Columbus would fall off the earth if he sailed too far West? Well, as real life has proved time and time again the world is round. We have adjusted. We have moved on… but there were some very difficult years for many peasants and the like during those days of paradigm change!!
Change is costly but change is necessary. If we look back in church history to the First Century, back to the very beginning, we can see that we did not get everything right in the New Testament church’s expansion on earth. This is to be expected, is it not.
Even the apostle Paul had to admit that “all in Asia left me.”
“You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me… At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me.” (2 Tim 1:15; 4:16)
John wrote some years later with similar trials:
“Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority.” (3 John 9)
If we are honest with the facts – and that is critical in dealing with change – we have to admit that things started to unravel as the Gospel spread from Jerusalem to Rome to the ends of the earth. By the time of Constantine in the early 4th century, the church of Jesus Christ was unrecognizable from her “True Mother”.
It had experienced major shifts from a living organism to an organized, legal religion. From an informal, flat structure to a formal, hierarchical power structure. From obscurity and weakness to political power, wealth and might.
Change agents ever since have been “wooing” the Bride of Christ back to her roots; to her true self! This has met with untold atrocities and mayhem from the powers-that-be. I have documented much of that throughout the past decade. (the Swiss Brethren, the early Quakers, the Waldensians, the Moravians, the Hussites, etc.)
Helping Change Happen
“A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” Dresden James
One of the first steps we can do in helping make change happen is to honor the lives of those who went before us and acknowledge their contributions to the church, both legacy church and organic church
Secondly, we need to live out the truth we believe! To “know in part” is so true but to not do what we know to be true is deceptive.
“Less rhetoric and more demonstration can go a long way toward overcoming resistance” A. J. Schuler, Psy. D.
Thirdly, examine your motives. Why do you want to stand for this change? Is there some part of you that is reactionary?
“You’d better be interested in change for the right reasons, and not for personal or factional advantage, if you want to minimize and overcome resistance.” A. J. Schuler, Psy. D.
For more on this important and timely topic please see the excellent article Overcoming Resistance to Change: Top Ten Reasons for Change Resistance by A. J. Schuler, Psy. D.
Yours for the least in the Kingdom,