I just spent an entire week in a dark house, cuddled under a blanket, visited by the flu fairy (and, believe me, there was nothing fun left under my pillow). Too tired to even read, I spent a lot of time staring at ceilings and pondering life (in between naps). In some dehydrated, hallucinatory moment I realized that everything I’ve learned about change and influence, I learned as a preacher’s kid.
I grew up with an amazing dad who was a change agent before the moniker was even created. My family tended to find churches that had gone through some crisis including, but not limited to, a pastor who cleaned out the offering plate and ran; a pastor who cleaned out the offering plate, grabbed the church secretary and ran; and the same pastor who had run to yet another church and repeated his previous behavior.
The next few weeks I’m going to share a few of my life lessons about change and influence that I learned during the fascinating experience of being a preacher’s kid.
1. People who are immediately really, really nice to you are probably not that nice. Take it from a P.K. who had way too many sweet people kiss her cheek on the first day at a new church and then try to kick her family out three years later . . . I learned that the first kisser generally ends up being your Judas. They want to know who you are and how to get rid of you, so they move in quickly. If you’re new in a job, and some woman wants you to go to dinner, or even go to her house for dinner your first night in town, run for your life. She’s your Judas.
2. 95% of the world wants you to suceed as long as your success doesn’t negatively impact their success.Most people awaited my dad’s sermons with anticipation, and grimaced if he stumbled (which he did, literally, in several situations. Dad was not physically coordinated). They wanted him to be successful, especially if his sermon was about somebody else. However, if a sermon hit home with them and caused them to think about how they might need to change – they weren’t so happy. If you’re introducing change and people LOVE it, they don’t believe that change will impact them. When they realize it will, they might not be so happy.
3. People that are easily influenced don’t stick around for the long haul. Those that always nodded in agreement with my dad on any change issue were great “early adopters,” but generally faded when the actual change was implemented. Those who were skeptical at first and took longer to jump on board stayed on board through the tough stuff. Early Adopters get bored easily. Their delight is in the NEW idea. Once the idea is no longer new, they wander off, whistling, looking for the next idea.
4. Older people get really mad if you cut into their cafeteria time. One Sunday a woman in her eighties went “forward” at the alter call, smiled sweetly at my father, leaned into his ear and whispered “The Presbyterians are beating us to Morrison’s – you need to wrap it up.” If you want to influence a group, make sure that your initiative doesn’t take away something that is precious to your audience or team. If it does, be ready to provide a compelling reason to still move forward. And a few coupons for next Sunday’s buffet wouldn’t hurt.
Even though I have taken up my bed and walked (i.e. I feel better), I am going to continue to ponder what I’ve learned as a preacher’s kid about influencing others and changing behavior. If you want to learn how to move people, stick with me through these stories. They’ll be worth your time, I promise. If not, you’ll get a coupon for next week’s buffet in the mail. 🙂