Nobody enjoys change. It is part of human nature to resist anything that causes one to leave the routine. This truth explains the rebellion, manipulation, and complacency that often accompanies change. However, some change is inevitable. No matter one’s feelings, change is the only constant. And, when handled correctly, change can be a good thing. Leaders are individuals who influence a group of people. If one cannot influence a group of people, that individual is, by definition, the opposite of a leader. Here lies the dilemma. If one is in a position of “authority,” if change is inevitable, and if people hate change, how can one genuinely be a leader (influencer) in that environment? How can one influence progress when change is necessary?
Trust is a must in times of change. One cannot truly lead without being trustworthy. When change occurs, people tend to complain more (sometimes for good reasons; sometimes not). People tend to hide or disappear. People tend to get angry, sad, or paranoid. This is certainly the case in organizations like churches, where people are not fueled by their pocketbooks, but they are compensated by their passion. And usually, the passion is something they care about more than almost anything in the world or they would never give so much of their lives for the organization. So, while change is necessary and inevitable, it must genuinely be handled with the utmost care and respect for those involved. If someone comes to the leader with a concern, complaint, or accusation, the leader should respond with sensitivity as to why the question was asked in the first place as opposed to being defensive about the situation. This is imperative, no matter the assumed justification for the conflict. Don’t let them get “their way” at the expense of others, but truly meet them where they are and care about their concerns.
Trust must be present to lead change. But it should be there before a conflict ever arises. The church should be defined by its environment of faithfulness towards one another. That faithfulness starts with communication and transparency concerning the state of the family, the problems the organization faces, and the vision the church has for the future. From there, the leaders should delegate and empower those who have gifts and a passion for what the body represents. This builds the trust of both the leader and the member. One should guide from afar but never micromanage. Finally, to build a trustworthy leadership in times of change, do not run away from conflict. Be open, hear one another, take other views seriously, be humble, and seek compromise when necessary for the sake of unity. For a church family, trust is everything! – Jesse
See also: Biblical Leadership in the Church Pt. 5: The “Preachers”