Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Change is Personal

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -- Leo Tolstoy

We often think about and plan for change in society, culture, and organizations, but ultimately all change is personal.  Whenever something shifts in our environment, we are impacted by the change.

On the personal level, it may be entering into or leaving a marriage.  On a family level, it might be the birth of a child, the departure of a young adult to take on a job or pursue education, or the loss of a loved one.  On the professional level, the change may occur due to taking a new position or losing an old one.  These relationship and environmental changes have direct personal implications for us as individuals.

We often fail to see that organizational changes also are personal.  When your church decides to add a new worship service and change the Sunday schedule, your world changes.  Extended family may choose to attend another service than the one you attend.  Traffic patterns change and you don’t see the friends you usually encounter of Sundays.  You are challenged to adapt.

Perhaps your employer decides to restructure.  You probably had nothing to do with the plans, but you are impacted nonetheless.  Schedules shift, new responsibilities are assigned, office space is reallocated, and old relationships with coworkers end.  There is a certain level of stress and discomfort.

In your community, a favorite restaurant or coffee shop closes.  Comfortable habits of socializing are no longer available.  The “place where everyone knows your name” is no longer there.  You feel at a loss.

No matter what the change is, it becomes personal.  The individual is called (or pushed) out of his or her comfort zone.  Old habits and preferences die hard and there is a certain amount of grief involved.  If we fail to recognize that grieving process, change will be even more difficult. 

In a conversation with a pastor friend this week, we talked about the role of pastoral care in the midst of change.  Providing such care may be a challenge, especially if the pastor is seen as a key player in the change that has occurred.  Even so, the pastor cares for the flock and this is especially important when the pasture is a new one.  When change occur, people need to be able to process it in a safe place.

Remember that all change is personal.

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