By Rev. Susan Brims, Missional Strategist & Superintendent
The words found in Ecclesiastes 3 are true, aren’t they: for everything there is a season…. (I hear singing.)
As we begin to see signs that the season in Arizona is finally changing to a cooler time, we find ourselves aware of so many other seasons of change. Churches have begun to live into their programing for the fall season. Church leadership finds themselves deep into the work of Church Conference season. And as Bishop Bob enjoys the first few days of his retirement season, we find ourselves welcoming Bishop Hagiya, knowing that with his arrival a new season begins as we find ourselves blessed by his leadership.
Seasons of change are inevitable.
A few years ago, a coach I had asked me and a team I was working with to complete an assessment tool called “Change Style Indicator.” It was his belief that it would be helpful for us to understand our natural styles of addressing change in order to fully understand the role that each person had in moving into a season that would require systemic change. He believed that it was also a way to honor the fact that all of us, with a variety of approaches to change, are part of the one body of Christ, and are all called to work together for a greater good.
Change is not easy work. It keeps you up at night. It challenges relationships. It challenges systems that depend on the status quo. It requires faith and love and trust in those who journey with you through a season of time. And it makes demands of you, even when the way ahead is unknown.
I have begun re-reading a book that is not an easy book to read. It is “Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization”, by Kegan and Lahey. In the opening paragraphs the authors ask a question that I find myself putting into my own language, (thinking of the parable of the Sower), “how do I, as a disciple of Christ, develop fertile soil in which spiritual growth can happen, in which personal and social holiness blossoms, where love and justice become the norm? I know when I plant roses that I need to do certain things to amend the soil if my goal is to have healthier rose bushes, but what amendments do I add to the soil of my spirit when seasons of change are present?
There are some practical steps I know to take:
1. Lean on God, even in uncertain times.
2. Make the intentional decision to trust the people around me.
3. Dig deeper into spiritual practices.
4. Listen, reflect, learn.
What else needs to be done to develop the fertile soil in which growth can happen?
I invite you to join me on a journey, we’ve done this before. I invite you to read with me “Immunity to Change” between now and advent. I know it’s not a spiritual book, but spirituality is present in the page. I know it is a business book, and I know how to listen with a disciple’s heart.
If “Immunity to Change” is too much for your schedule, then perhaps this is a possibility: “Spiritual Kaizen: How to Become a Better Church Leader” by Grant Hagiya.
I look forward to the journey together. Let me know your thoughts along the way.
Blessings and peace be with you.