How to make a desired change?

How to make a desired change?

Recently I have encountered an article, “Managing complex Change” by Dr. Mary Lippitt, the founder and president of Enterprise Management, Ltd. She lays out a principle for a meaningful change to happen. I want to first review it and then to apply it to my ministry setting.

First, she argues that for a meaningful change to happen in any situation we need 5 components: (1) Vision, (2) Skill (3) Incentive (4) Resources, and (5) Action Plan.  A vision is a guiding force behind what we are trying to do. Skill can mean communication skill, political skill, technical skill, or relational skill. Incentive can have many forms like rewards, recognition, celebrations, or purpose. Resources are money, time, talents, equipment, system, and knowledge. Action plan is a plan broken down into steps that people can take and accomplish in small bits.

If we do not have a vision, we will end up in confusion.  Why are we doing this? Why do we take this direction? What is my role in this project? What is the purpose of this work? Of course, we have a clear vision: “Make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world into the Kingdom of God!” In other words, we want to make everybody to work for “a community of love where everybody is respected and loved and maximizes the potential that each has.” We want everybody “to make sacrifice, if necessary, and forgive enemies.” We want everybody “to build up relationships through which everybody realizes their potential fully.” When we are clear with this vision, we will not have confusion. Through sermon, Bible Study, meetings, and daily counseling and conversation we will emphasize and explain this vision time and again.

If a teenager does not have a vision, he or she is going to be rebellious because he or she just reacts to the heavy burdens of realities without knowing what to do. If a middle aged person does not have a vision, he or she takes regressive courses, having affairs or taking bribes, because he or she does not know what to do with his or her life. If an elderly person does not have a vision, he or she becomes stubborn and refuses any changes because he or she does not know what is happening in his or her life.

On the other hand, without skills, people will have anxiety. How should we achieve such a wonderful vision without knowing how to love not to mention how to forgive? How do I build up relationship with my spouse, with my children, with my co-workers, with my colleagues, with my church members, and with my fellow citizens? For the vision of a community of love, we need skills in the area of communication, relationship building, forgiveness and reconciliation, making peace and sacrifice, and discovering and encouraging talents in others.

If a teenager has a vision but does not have skills, he or she has anxiety and sometimes rely on alcohol or drug or violence or sex. Sometimes anxiety gets bigger and bigger and he or she may have mental problems like depression or bipolar. When middle aged people do not have skills for their visions, they may end up relying on lucks, playing gambles, making sudden changes in their careers, or destroying what they have built up so far. Elderly people without skills how to prepare their final days, they have anxiety because they are not ready to accept the changes of their body and mind and soul.

If we have a vision and skills to achieve that vision, we have to carefully examine our resources. Without resources, we will end up with a lot of frustration because we have a vision, we know how to achieve it, but we do not have the resources to get the job done!

We have many bright but angry teenagers, skillful and experienced but mad middle age people, and knowledgeable and wise but frustrated elderly seniors around us. So many good ideas are dumped and buried under daily chores because we do not have enough time, money, talents, and systems to support them! If we truly believe that God is our ultimate resource, we would not be easily frustrated though. God will provide! That is why we need faith in making changes all the time.

However, we need more than faith! We need practical action plan. We need small successes to achieve the big one. A thousand miles can be reached easily within a practical time line when we divide it up into small miles every day. That is the beauty of an action plan. Without action plan, we will end up with a lot of false starts. We do not want to start off in a certain direction only to realize that an important step was skipped. When it happens we have to stop the progress and go back to fix the problem. If it happens again and again, now the leadership is going to be in trouble.

Without concrete and practical action plan, visions become day dreams. Skills become show time and resources become buried treasures. We cannot use crude oil or unrefined gold stone. Every genius should go through practice and refining process for the desired results.

If we have a vision, skills, resources, and action plan we are ready to make a meaningful change in any area. The only one thing that we have to consider is the speed of the change. Do we want a speedy change or gradual change?

If we want rapid change, we should use incentives. Incentives can vary according to the culture of the community. In some communities money talks but in some it has back fire. Some want promotion or recognition. Some want celebration. Some want satisfaction in hearts with meaning and purpose. Without incentives, we can still make changes. With incentives, we can speed up changes. If a change is urgent, we can even use forces. However, forces always need authority and legitimacy.

Now, let us apply this principle to our ministry situation. If we want to have more small groups where people can experience welcome, worship, word, and work (vision of 4 W), then we need to provide small group leader training for all the possible leaders and the follow up trainings for the existing leaders. In the training, we need to make sure that all the resources for the small group ministry are secured. Then we need to provide action plan: When and how to start a group and how to keep and multiply the groups. If we want to multiply the number of small groups rapidly, we should give incentives to the small group leaders.

  1. Now write down one area that you want to make a meaningful change.
  2. Then write a scenario using these 5 components.
  3. Discuss in your group to get constructive criticisms and feedbacks.
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About biblepreacher

United Methodist Church Pastor. My wife, Hysung Hong Lee, is also a UMC pastor and my children are all grown and have their independent life. We have now empty nest. I and my wife are collecting some mission eggs now in that nest!
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