[Synopsis from my Upcoming Book Called “Amazing Change”]
I was born a Baptist preacher’s kid, and never before nor since have I learned so much about being a change warrior.
My parents were called to churches that were struggling. Our job as a family was to spend the next two to three years leading the church through substantial, difficult change efforts.
I learned to define each of the critical milestones with types of meat. I’m a simple woman.
Roast Beef: When we first arrived at a new church, my parents were welcomed as heroes. Dad was going to give everybody what they’d always wanted. The Choir Director would get his new robes, the woman in charge of the fellowship hall committee would get new dishes, and the Sunday School Director would get new quarterlies.
Of course, a change warrior can’t make everybody happy. And change, even when clamored for, is almost always resisted.
But no one knows this when you first walk in the church doors. You are seen as the “fixer.” We called this our honeymoon phase, capped off each week by those Sundays when we were invited over to a congregant’s house and served roast beef on linen tablecloths. Those were happy times.
Chicken: Once potential changes were announced at Wednesday night business meetings, our Sunday invitations lessened. Perhaps the funding for the new fellowship hall dishes was given to support a mission church. Whatever the case, our lunch invitations were cut by 50%, and our lunch meat was reduce to poultry. Chicken was our sign that the change effort was starting to engage.
Sandwiches: The church would inevitably reach the chaos stage of change, where everything feels like a new pair of Spanx — tight and uncomfortable. Disgruntled church members left, the pews weren’t filled, and tithing was down.
At this stage the entire church staff knew that lunch invitations were over. Instead, we would go to each other’s homes and commiserate over sandwiches. We survived with gallows humor, supported each other emotionally, and dreamed of roast beef.
Chicken: Eventually, the changes began to take hold and make a positive difference. New church members joined the church, filling those empty pews. As a direct result, lunch invitations reappeared. We tossed away our PB&J’s and prepare for some roasted chicken at the kitchen table. Mom and dad knew, at this stage, that the darkest part of change was over.
Roast Beef: Inevitably, by the 2nd or 3rd year, the changes would become internalized. The church pews would would be spilling over with new members, and fear would leave the building. My family knew that this phase meant it was about time for us to go. But, in those months, we became roast beef worthy again. We were moved back to the dining room. And it was good.
If you’re a change warrior, this is your path. Just remember that when people love you and love your potential change, you need to gobble down as much praise and roast beef as you possibly can. Because those chicken days are on the way.
And when the sandwich days arrive, when your technology recommendation isn’t working or the sales culture has yet to generate more revenue, it’s okay. You won’t be that hungry anyway. Just work through the nausea and keep telling yourself that popularity has never driven change. Nibble on the crust of your bread and know that chicken is on the way.
Once that new system starts working for everyone, once that single branch exceeds their deposit goals because of your sales strategy . . . then, invitations to lunch will increase. And while you will still have the occasional dark day, once you see that light at the end of the tunnel there is no stopping you.
Because you are a change warrior. And you know roast beef is only a day away.