February 27, 2017

What to Do When Ministry Leaders Resist the Change They Ask You to Implement

Ministries are filled with individuals who are tasked to implement change, only to be hindered by the very same leader who tasked them to do the job. 

I experienced this once, a few years ago. Maybe you've experienced this yourself.

In my blog post, Owning Your Gift and Your Calling, I shared briefly how I was asked to lead and help both a youth ministry as well as Sunday school ministry, both were in shambles. They were in need of many things including new passion and new energy.  

What I didn’t share, was that in the process, I also discovered that the leader who asked me to help, was hindering my efforts behind the scene. But God was faithful in revealing this to me, and I was able to both discuss this with that leader and adjust accordingly. 

Many talented and gifted people have lost their position, and even their passion for ministry, because the very people or person who tasked them with implementing change, stood in the way of getting it done. 

Some leaders don’t always admit this as being sabotage, but will often conclude that the individual is ineffective. These leaders can be some of the nicest people you know, and at the same time, some of the most unreliable. I write about this in Five Things You Should Know about People Pleasers


If you've been tasked or asked to implement change, here is my advice to you:
  • When you sit down to discuss the task you’re asked to take on, ask whether the leader is willing to back you up.

  • Do they plan to be involved, and in what way?

  • Are they open to feedback?
Doing this will give you an indication of their commitment, to you and the task at hand. You will also be able to determine if they are willing to see it through. 

Warning signs

The following are warning signs that there is some resistance to the very changes they asked you to help implement: 
  • Lack of cooperation.

  • Makes excuses or finds ways to avoid involvement such as missing meetings.

  • Prohibits access to key information, individuals, or resources that are crucial to your success. 
The next step

If you are experiencing the problems I stated above, here is my suggestion. 

  • Ask for a one on one meeting, and lovingly but assertively point out the contradictory behavior and its affect on your ability to implement the change.

  • Remind them of what they said they wanted, and how their resistance is hindering the change they asked for. 
Just as Gideon wanted to assure God’s commitment to the task at hand, how much more should you with your leaders? 

Leaders are human and can and will change their mind mid course, once they fully understand the implications of the changes they've tasked you to implement. 

They may realize that they may have to change themselves, and are not prepared to do so at the moment. 

At this point, it may be time to graciously exit this task. But do it only with the understanding that the leader or organization didn’t fully understand the implications of the change, and that you did all that you could do to help them realize that they were not ready for this change.

If you've ever experienced this, leave a comment below or on facebook.

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