Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

Change and Loss

from June 6, 2007
Change and Loss

There are days where I wish things would just stay the same for a while. Stability has a lot going for it! But so does change. Some of us are excited about change, and relish the chance to jump in. Others of us are afraid of us, afraid to step out into the unknown because we know in our guts, even if we don’t know that we know, that change means losing something. In my experience, most change happens because leaders fail to realize that change means loss, as well as gain, but until people are able to deal with the loss, they will never see the gain.

So in a VERY abbreviated way:

The first step in change is to acknowledge that very basic thing – loss. Who will be most affected by this change? Who will lose the most? What will that loss entail? How can you celebrate that “thing” that will be no more? How can you carry into the future the legacy of that “thing” in a way that honors the past, but does not hinder the future?

The next step in managing change is to allow people to wander – to get lost, to stumble, to find their way. That wilderness time will also include times to celebrate small steps – and we all need that kind of encouragement – even more so, if the change is really huge. As people wander, that is a time to help them embrace aspects of the change you are introducing, to get used to it, to get used to not having whatever was lost.

The next step as the change starts to take hold, is to find ways to solidify it, so that it will last – to celebrate – to integrate, to find ways for people to own it, so it is there’s and not something imposed by the outside.

And finally when it is well established, celebrate again, and let people know they have made it! We all need to know that every once in a while, we actually reach a destination. Let people see that the have reached it. But don’t do this prematurely! Too soon, and before you know it, you’re right back where you started from.

Easy, right? Well, maybe not easy, but it is biblical! Remember the Exodus?

(Let me end with a warning – remember that as leaders who are guiding this process, you will be way ahead of everyone else. Just because you have made it thru the wilderness moved on to the “promised land,” don’t expect everyone else to make that leap without also going thru the wilderness. The change process cannot be shortcircuted for anyone!

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