Change starts within. This is what I learned during a recent change process in an organization I am leading. After some years of existence, we believed that a paradigm shift was needed. I was initially skeptical of the need to overhaul the way we do things. After all, we were reasonably successful in meeting our goals. But then again, we could do even better. To become a more effective organization, we had to go to unchartered territory. I had to leave part of my comfort zone for change to happen.
Change experts such as John Kotter say that a prerequisite for people to buy into the need to modify the status quo is a sense of urgency. Our people must have a sense of crisis, or else they won’t change. In the Bible, the prophets performed this function to the people of Israel. Just before the Babylonian captivity, prophets such as Isiah and Jeremiah warned the people to repent of their sins. Even now, we pastors should expose the sin of the people and call for repentance, which is a change process (see Acts 20:21).
Another vital ingredient of a successful change process is the presence of a guiding coalition. This coalition is composed of the leader and a band of like-minded persons who are convinced of the need for change. In the Bible, the Lord Jesus worked with the twelve apostles for three years as He sought to usher in the new covenant, a radical change is ever there was one.
A critical work of the leader and his support group is to cast a vision of the future for the people they lead. Change will only happen today if the people have a clear picture of the future we are aspiring for. In the Bible, an example of this was during the exodus of Israel from Egypt when God promised to give them a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 13:5).
The success of any change, whether in the ministry, in the office, or at home, ultimately depends on the blessing of God. A leader must, therefore, seek the Lord’s will in prayer before and during the change process.