Do You See Change as a Gift From God?
Let’s be honest, change can be scary. It can be tricky to navigate, nerve-wracking and cause us to wonder if our previous direction was a mistake. But it can also lead to spiritual growth and a renewed trust in God’s leading.
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By Sue Brage, OMF (U.S.) Vice President for Communications
When I started at OMF, my first responsibility as VP for Communications was to launch a new brand and walk the organization through a process of transition. Sounds like fun, huh? I’m not complaining. But to be honest, this was an intense time for me personally, and for our team.
As we began to review materials we realized we couldn’t just “slap the new logo” on everything! No, we had to consider our style and voice, our message and, really, our identity as a “brand.” Introducing a new logo and color palette required taking a comprehensive look at how we had been communicating. With a critical eye, we had to determine if it still worked, if it fit with trends and if it still represented who we were as an organization.
The transition was complex and complicated. We needed to be intentional about every decision, discussion and opportunity to educate others on the new brand. At times, I felt like a broken record, but it was important for everyone to understand not only where we were going, but why.
I remember about a year into the process we did an exercise with a group of missionaries on home assignment asking them to look at an assortment of materials, brochures, magazine ads, and so on to consider what looked like OMF and why or why not.
What an eye-opening experience to hear them describing our brand—totally on point! They understood font choices, picture choices and even why certain colors looked like us or not. It was a rewarding moment for our team to realize the message had made it through. We had not only informed them, we had empowered them!
The rebranding process helped them to be better advocates and ambassadors for the organization. More importantly, it gave them greater confidence when sharing about OMF’s mission with others.
While launching the new brand was exciting and rewarding in many ways, it wasn’t without its share of resistance. Some subtle, some outright, some that got right up and walked out of the room.
Understandable. Change makes people nervous. Whether we are facilitating change or change is beyond our control, it’s a tricky thing to walk through.
The truth is change and resistance go hand in hand. Often people feel change is an indictment of what they’ve been doing. I totally understand this. We reminded people all the time that this new direction didn’t mean that what we had been doing was wrong. Personally, I think this is where most of our resistance comes from. That and fear of the unknown.
I wrote something in my journal earlier this year:
Just because you move in a new direction doesn’t mean the old one was wrong.
I think this can be part of our issue. Embracing a new direction feels like admitting failure or defeat. Old ways are just that–old ways. It’s not an indictment on the past or previous successes. The things we did in the past did work, for the most part. They were the best decisions for the season.
We were discerning, we heard from God. Now he has something else in mind, something new and exciting. He hasn’t changed his mind. He just has new paths and new directions for us—new wine requiring new wineskins.
Change Is a Spiritual Strategy to Grow Us Individually and Together
We can view change as a gift. Through it, we are able to shake off old ideas and patterns that had us stuck. We have the opportunity to work through conflict and differing opinions. We learn to collaborate and work together in new ways and rely on each other more. That’s what change does. It requires us to press in, talk to one another, listen to one another and depend on God like never before. This observation by George Bernard Shaw expresses the issue: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
Openness to change is a trait worth fostering. As leaders, we have to learn to be ok with change—for we are often called on to lead seasons of transition. It is inevitable. Once in a while I like to shake things up just to keep people on their toes—because I fully believe the process sharpens us. (Oops—probably shouldn’t have admitted that!)
We can actually limit God in our lives and ministry if we hold to the way things have always been. Seasons of transition can be scary, intense times. But God has a plan and a purpose for each of us: for our growth personally and collectively. It may not always be comfortable, but it will be worth it.
Is there an area of your life or ministry where God is calling for change? Or perhaps change has been thrust upon you and you find yourself resisting. I encourage you to be open and to embrace it fully.
Will it be painful? Yes.
Will it be hard? Probably.
Can you do it alone? Nope.
Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
Let’s embrace change together and see what God will do when we let him.
Sue currently serves as Vice President of Communications for OMF (U.S.) International. Her passion is to help OMF share its mission and vision in fresh and relevant ways and to help others communicate well for his kingdom. As a writer and leader, her heart is to encourage others to draw closer to Jesus and his purposes for them. In her down time, she loves to do nothing.