Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Dealing With Change When You Don't Want To Change

Photo Credit: tarale
In his popular 1998 book dealing with organizational and personal change, Spencer Johnson famously asked, "Who Moved My Cheese?" Johnson helps the reader address the anxieties often associated with change and emphasizes the role that our attitude can play in positively managing change.

But what happens when you feel like someone has not just moved your cheese...but taken it altogether?

In many ways I am experiencing a profound season of change.

I'm personally going through changes. Now in my mid-forties, I'm not as "spry" as I used to be. The aches and pains from enjoying a game or two of pickup basketball don't go away as quickly as they once did. A Saturday afternoon of yard work often means a Saturday evening of ice packs and heating pads. The gray hairs seem to multiple by the week.

Simply put, I'm getting older.

Our family is going through changes. Of course, there are the expected adjustments that come with a growing family. Our family of six now includes three teenagers -- and all the hormones and calendar activities that go along with that stage of life. My kids don't find my "dad humor" as funny as they once did. The only child that will still hold my hand in a parking lot is our nine-year-old son.

Simply put, my kids are growing up.

Our church is going through changes. A church plant of which we've been a part since its beginning eleven years ago, we're experiencing the normal challenges that a growing church goes through. People leave the church. Key members receive job transfers to far away places. Staff members transition. New opportunities are given attention.

Simply put, our church is maturing.

Our ministry is going through changes. After 25 years of one structure, the department in which I provide leadership -- Cru Campus -- is changing how we're organized. Though our mission and calling is not changing, how our leadership structure is set up is undergoing a massive overhaul. Jobs that once existed will no longer be there. Some teams will change. Some people will have to move. Our ministry is positioning ourselves to better reach the students and faculty of the world with the good news of Jesus.

Simply put, our ministry is adapting to a changing world.

If I'm honest with myself, I realize that I am a creature of habit. My morning routine of getting ready for each day is consistent. My daily driving route to the office doesn't vary. I like to eat dinner at the same time each day. I follow football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the summer.

Simply put, I like things the way I like them.

Now, many of the things I like are changing...and I have very little control over it.

Part of my processing of these changes is acknowledging that I haven't chosen to go through much of it. There are emotions I need to experience in order to positively deal with the change.

It's a healthy thing for us to allow for the full range of emotions when dealing with unexpected or unwanted change. Not only are things like grief, mourning and lament good for the soul, but they are quite biblical (Ecclesiastes 3:1-14, Matthew 5:4, II Corinthians 1:3-4, I Peter 2:19).

As true as these things are, it's also important to realize that we have control over our response to change. In other words, we have jurisdiction over our attitude. In confronting reality, we tell ourselves: "This happened (or is happening). I don't like it. What do I do now?"

Look at what Chuck Swindoll says:
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.”
Another way of saying it is that how we respond to change might very well influence how we experience the change we're facing.

Whether I'm responsible for the change or whether I feel like the change is happening to me, I'm responsible for my attitude.

It's helpful for me to remember that.

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