One constant in life is change. Think about all the changes you experienced this past year. Chances are, more changes are on the way. So, the question becomes not whether or not there will be change, but rather, how we will manage it.
One of the promises that Christianity has to offer is that God is with us in the midst of change. Especially when referencing the story of his birth, Jesus is often referred to as Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” God is with us, and being aware of that can make all the difference in how our perspective is shaped and how we manage change. There is hope in the present and future because of what God has done through Jesus. God’s presence can guide, lead, sustain, comfort and bless us during all the changes in our lives.
Authors Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges offer some ideas on how we can better manage our reactions and others’ reactions to change in their book The Servant Leader. Blanchard and Hodges say that it’s helpful to become more aware of how you and others most commonly react to change.
Here are some of the most common reactions to change and suggestions for managing those reactions in a positive way. They are based Blanchard’s and Hodges’ ideas, but written from the viewpoint of someone who is experiencing, not necessarily instigating, change.
Reaction: Awkwardness, anxiety, self-consciousness
How to manage: Seek clarification about what is expected by others.
Reaction: Feelings of alienation or isolation, even if everyone else is going through the same change
How to manage: Find opportunities to get involved the process of change with others who are involved in or affected by it. The more thoughts, ideas, feelings and opinions are shared in a positive way, the more the process of working through a change can be a blessing.
Reaction: Feelings of loss and grief
How to manage: Give yourself time to grieve the loss of what was. Change can have its benefits, but that doesn’t eliminate the need, at times, to grieve.
Reaction: Feelings of being overwhelmed or unprepared
How to manage: Prioritize what needs to be done. Take one step at a time. Brainstorm with others to identify priorities as well as resources you will need to manage the change.
Preparedness for change varies greatly from individual to individual. Some people are risk-takers, while others need more time to feel secure. There is no one correct way to approach it. Recognizing and managing our own reactions and helping others to manage their reactions can be a significant way to share and experience God’s love and to know that God is with us.
By Bill Gran, M. Div., BCC
Spiritual Ministries Consultant and Pastor