Change is painful! You already knew that…but there is such thing as “smart pain” and “dumb pain.” Let me explain…
After my mom quit smoking she decided to get in shape. She wasn’t obese but she hadn’t exercised in a long time. So she got up one morning and said, “I’m getting in shape.” She got down to do some sit ups. “Uhhh…” She could not do 1! No joke. Nor a push-up. She walked around the block and about died.
I laughed. What a supportive son I was!
I didn’t pay attention after that to her attempt to get in shape, but about a year later she asked me to go with her to a 5K race walk. I was cocky then (now I’m just very confident) and said, “I’m not just going with you. I’m entering and I’m going to beat you!” So I did…enter, that is. I got an early lead on her and many others (after getting a tutorial on what race walking was precisely). After about 2 or 3K my shins were killing me. I wanted to quit. But I’m too competitive to quit. So I just slowed down…to a crawl. Everyone was passing me. Some 80 year-old lady passed me. My mom passed me (laughing at me). I finished the race and I didn’t come in last but I was in pain. I hadn’t trained for it so I paid a stiffer price than most of the other racers.
What’s my point? My mom trained for that day. And over the year she went through muscle fatigue but now she was in shape! I hadn’t done anything to prepare but I wish I had. My shins ached for a week and I finished at the back of the pack.
Change in any church or organization is like that. It’s going to hurt either way, but there is “smart pain” and “dumb pain.” If you prepare, do your homework, survey the landscape, take things slow, help the “middle adopters” understand the changes you propose then the changes will still hurt. Some people will still complain, maybe leave, but you laid the groundwork for success. Most people will understand it and eventually embrace it. But if you ignore process, refuse to listen to others’ opinions, never compromise, and say, “To heck with those who disagree,” then the changes will hurt . People you love (and who love you) will leave because they don’t understand the need for those changes because you didn’t explain it. And you’ll look stupid.