How to Navigate Change

When you think of change management your mind likely flips toward systems, processes, and goals.

You may instinctively think about that long-dreaded transition from a legacy Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database to another bigger and better one. Or you may think about the rebrand project that you are currently executing. Perhaps the phrase change management takes your mind to a management restructure that you’ve long considered with trepidation.

These are all real outworks of change management, but I’d like to suggest that one of the greatest things to consider in change management is you. Your soul. Your growth. Your Christlikeness.

A few years ago, I found myself in one of my life’s more difficult leadership transitions. I was a widowed dad of four girls, an executive pastor of a megachurch, and a newly engaged man who was, with reckless abandon, moving toward what I believed to be the perfect will of God for my life. I was on my way to marrying my new best friend and it felt like sweet redemption and joy. I was moving out of a long grieving season and desperate to celebrate.

But life was complicated. I was leading my somewhat anxious daughters into uncharted territory, and I was creating a new challenge for my employer and church as my commitment started to be questioned and strained under life’s pressures. On top of that, I’ve always been known to have a lot of irons in the fire and my commitments were beyond what I was able to handle, though I wouldn’t have admitted that back then.

Abrupt change was coming. Relationship tension and difficulty were imminent. Naively, I believed that nothing had to change or if it did, I would be able to avoid it all.

Along the road of an unanticipated change in my own life, which was a domino effect for a lot of other changes, both personally and professionally, I’ve learned three things that may be helpful for you in a current season of change.

1. Assume the Lord is provoking the change

I said “I didn’t ask for this!” so many times in my season of imminent change. It was a statement of anger. An acknowledgment that I was walking a path, not of my own choosing. Like all emotions, anger is a good, God-given emotion. But it comes with both benefits and impairments.

Anger’s benefit? Passion. I had a lot of passion. Unfortunately, my passion was coming out in unhealthy ways, with rage pointed towards those easy to blame. My anger became an impairment. It was grounded in pride. I wouldn’t have said this, but I felt “better than” those that I wanted to blame. Those that, at the time, I felt were causing tension in life’s change. Now I look back and I clearly see that it was the Lord provoking the change. He would lead me through all the changes to come.

If you assume the Lord is provoking the change, you can keep the conversation between you and Him. Rather than placing blame on yourself or on others, you can ask, “Lord, I didn’t ask for this. Why are You allowing it? What do You want to do? What do You want to reveal?”

2. Assume He cares about your character more than anything 

Through the tension and heightened nature of my season of change, I admit, my eyes were more focused and my heart more attuned to what was happening “to me.” It was easy to play the victim and set myself up as judge and jury over everyone else’s intent. I would easily miss my own faults and shortcomings and give myself grace that I wouldn’t give others. But thanks be to God for those who walked closest with me. With gentleness and love, they spoke directly to the areas where I was being hypocritical and lacking character myself.

As a boy, I would often blame my twin brother or my sisters for a particular circumstance and my dad always used to say, on repeat, “the only person you can control is you.” I’ve found that statement to be true, but more than that, I’m the only one that God cares about when it comes to my relationship with Him and the circumstances I’m walking through.

In assuming that God cares about your character more than anything else in difficult change, you can take the focus off your circumstances.

But more than that, you can take your focus off the shortcomings of others. It frees you to focus on developing the only thing that God cares about in regard to you – your own Christlikeness.

3. Assume God wants your relationships to stay intact

As change was happening in my life, I felt like I was losing control. In my mind, I was on the verge of losing everything. My girls, my job, my church, and my very influence. But looking back now, not only does that thought seem juvenile but it couldn’t be further from the truth!

Almost everything was being shaken, yes. But God was doing the shaking.

God was shaking my circumstances because He had some repositioning He was working on in my life and in the institutions I was a part of – starting with my family but also in my church.

I didn’t lose my girls. We are closer than ever. I didn’t lose my job or my church. I’m in a different role now. One that freed me up to be the best version of me. But my change made room for others around me to be the best versions of themselves. My family is stronger. My church is stronger. And the kingdom is stronger.

At the same time, I believe, the enemy was attempting to shake up my relationships. His desire is always the destruction of relationships – with God and others. 

Our relationship with God is eternal. And so is our relationship with God’s people. Assume He cares about eternal things more than temporal things.

In assuming that God wants your relationships to stay intact, guard yourself from sabotaging them. Prioritize your relationship with Him. And prioritize your relationship with others, specifically with other believers.

Change is inevitable. Tension in change is inevitable. How you manage that change is up to you.

Change well.


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