EPISODE #81 – Holy Discontentment – Overcoming Resistance to Change
JimBo and Bob discuss the importance of holy discontentment in overcoming resistance to change.
Holy Discontent + Vision + First Steps + Leadership > Resistance to Change
Holy Discontent – The unquenchable Spirit-Initiated conviction that things are not as they should be–and that must change.
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Show notes powered by Descript are an approximation of the verbal content, consult podcast audio for accuracy
[00:00:00] JimBo Stewart: Here we are back at it again, the boot camp.
And, one of the things we get to celebrate right now is as both of us are Baptist and for the first time in history, a Protestant, not only Protestant, but Baptist college won the men’s NCAA championship. That was pretty big deal.
Bob Bickford: That is a really. Big deal. when I was a youth pastor, Corpus Christi, a lot of the folks at the church I served at were, Baylor folks. Now they didn’t say Baylor, they would call it bylaw. That’s how they said it. Bayla Baila. I went to, where do you go to where’d you go to school? Baila right. And so, You know, back then there was kind of like, there was a tension Ms.
Baylor really a Baptist school, or is it not a Baptist school? but it seems like, after the, almost the complete decimation of the men’s basketball team, under coach drew, it’s rebuilt. these guys seem to be like really good dudes for the most part. I saw Butler the guy that scored all the points last night actually [00:01:00] teaches a Sunday school class.
that’s pretty crazy. I’ve never seen men. I, when they, so they played the university of Arkansas, and knocked us out. when I was like the first five minutes of that game, I was like, we are not going to be Baylor. The speed, the depth, the way they spread the court, the intensity, everybody that they put on the court can, can play.
Even the white guy with a large mullet can play. Um, Congratulations and hats off to the Baylor bears. Amazing run.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely.
I think everybody that maybe didn’t want to claim Baylor as Baptists is probably now, at least for now claiming them as Baptist.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely.
JimBo Stewart: I found it interesting that it was a Baptist college against a Jesuit. Catholic college. Pretty fascinating.
Bob Bickford: well, all of the Baptists, groups that I’m on on Facebook said Baylor’s gonna win because Baptist [00:02:00] dunk and Catholics don’t.
So, I guess, I guess that was an advantage.
JimBo Stewart: Here we go. Here we go. Yeah, absolutely. Well, good. Uh, Bob, I know you’ve been feeling a little bit under the weather. the past couple of days, but you were tested negative for COVID. I mean, are you convinced that it wasn’t COVID are you convinced that it was COVID.
Bob Bickford: I have no idea. You know, I, I think, uh, I got sick on good Friday and missed Easter. , first Easter I’ve ever missed. In my, probably in my entire life of being a born here and walking the earth and, called the kid that I discipled when he was in my Sunday school class and the 10th grade. And, uh, he covered for me and our elder team did a great job.
Barb was Barb was like super champ of calling out directions and texting people. And so the church. The church really did a great job and super thankful. and I don’t know, I’m, I’m still, I’m guessing I’m about 75%. I’m at, we’re at the end of the day here and [00:03:00] I’m just kind of exhausted. So, I feel they’re spurts of the day that I feel really good.
And then, you know, I was telling you earlier, like I got up in the morning, ate breakfast, took a shower, got ready, set my chair. And I’m like, well, think I’m done. I mean, I’m exhausted. So we’ll see, we’ll see how it goes.
JimBo Stewart: Oh, good. Well, good. I appreciate you making the time to come to the bootcamp. Cause I mean, I know, look, you can miss Easter Sunday, but you can’t, you can’t miss an episode of the bootcamp.
Bob Bickford: You cannot.
JimBo Stewart: I’m glad you got your priorities where they’re supposed to be.
Bob Bickford: Well, thank you. Thanks.
JimBo Stewart: No, I hate that you had to miss Easter Sunday, but I’m glad. Ah, and that just backs up what we always say about the importance of discipleship and uh, you know, just how cool that you got to hand that to somebody that you have discipled. So that’s really cool. I wanna talk about something that’s really cool, that, you taught me that I think would be great for us to talk about for a few [00:04:00] episodes.
One of the things we’ve talked about several times is that. All church revitalization, all church replanting, really a lot of pastoral leadership in general is, is ultimately changed leadership, right? We’re now we’re changed leadership towards the fullness and maturity of Christ changed leadership through discipleship.
But it still changed leadership. And one of the big things that we struggle with in church leadership in general is , resistance to change. We come into congregations that we want to lead in a certain direction, but there’s a resistance to change, which we’ve mentioned on here before. John Kotter wrote something a long, long time ago with the Harvard business review called leading change.
And he talks about creating a sense of urgency. And, , he says, I believe I remember this correctly, that when. Change leadership efforts fail. Like he he’s, credit’s like 70% of the time. It’s, [00:05:00] it’s probably due to a lack of urgency or insufficient sense of urgency. And, uh, so he even later came back and wrote a whole nother book on creating a sense of urgency and that’s always been kind of a thing, but I recently heard you talking.
And, , you sh you didn’t use that phrase a sense of urgency. You used a different phrase, and I really like, I liked it, but I think it’s so much more, accurate to the work that we do, because what we do is different than change leadership in a business or, or any other organization. And so, because there’s just something deeper to what we’re doing.
And so you didn’t use that. What, what was the phrase that you used Bob?
Bob Bickford: yeah, I use the word Holy discontent. And, , I think. Really when I, when I thought about change, I was tasked with speaking to a group of associational leaders and pastors and talking about what is it that, [00:06:00] , helps create momentum for change. And so specifically in the context of a replant or a revitalization.
And so I, I think as I looked at that, and as I began to think about the scriptures, I may have to think about the process for us, for me and for us. I really started with this idea of Holy discontent. So let me, let me give the whole change equation. Imagine that we’re going to walk through, and then I’ll talk specifically about bullying.
We can kick it back and forth and talk about the first step of that is Holy discontent. So, the change equation that I put together was you’ve got to overcome resistance. To change. And so what’s greater than resistance to change. And maybe I should define resistance to change, first, just so that we kind of get this idea of what are we doing.
And I think, uh, this is what we’re trying to overcome. So resistance to change is use any word threat or act designed to derail [00:07:00] intimidate, slow up in forward progress. Yes. Towards the accomplishment of God’s revealed vision. Right. So, yeah. What’s the church supposed to do, supposed to pursue, pursue God’s vision for a church as it’s described in the scriptures.
And so one of the things that happens through church is that they don’t end up pursuing what God wants for the church. And so then you find yourself in a, in the situation where you’ve got to lead them forward. So what, what can overcome. Resistance to change. Is that changes? I just described it here.
Here are the things that I put together. So think of your algebra equation. Did you ever take algebra Jimbo and in middle school or high school?
JimBo Stewart: yeah, I took algebra. I was not good at it at all. As a matter of fact, I C I, I, it’s the only part of the reason, one of the many reasons I got a theater degree is it only required one and math class. And I took college algebra. I got a [00:08:00] tutor, before I even went to class, I signed up for a tutor and I worked hard and I got a C and I was happy with that C.
Bob Bickford: check the box. You got it done. Right? So,
JimBo Stewart: And I, that was a happier day for me than graduation, because it meant I would never have to take a math class ever again in my entire life. And now I just finished a doctoral degree and I’ve yet to take another math class and it just feels incredible that I’ll never have to do that.
Bob Bickford: well, I want to salute you for navigating that, , and accomplishing that through your, your , post-graduate work and your doctoral work. Fantastic job. Way to go.
JimBo Stewart: thank you. Well, the best part, the best part is it didn’t include math, but I didn’t take, so what I will say this your equation does remind me, there was another class that for some reason I was good at was logic and we had formed, we had formula similar to this in the logic class that I took.
Bob Bickford: All right. So algebra [00:09:00] logic, here we go. The, the change equation, you have resistance to change all the way to the right, and you have to get something greater than that. So put a greater than sign on the left side of the resistance to change. And we’ll put this graphic somehow up for you guys on, on the show notes.
What are you going to have to overcome resistance to change? The first thing is Holy discontent, then vision. Then you have to have first steps, practical steps, and then you have to exercise leadership or have leadership. If you can get all of those things working together, you have a greater opportunity.
I think, to overcome resistance. To change. And so that’s kind of the whole equation. And then the first thing that you’ve asked me to talk about is Holy discontent. So let me give you a definition that I put together for a Holy discontent. Holy discontent is the unquenchable spirit initiated conviction.
That things are not as they should be, [00:10:00] and that, that must change. And so it’s when you walk into a church and the church has divided. And you just, you just say, man, it can’t be like this, right? We can’t do this. you see that the church does not engage in its community, that, their, their discipleship is lacking.
All those sorts of things that they, they are hindered by unaddressed sin, whatever it is inside of a, a church that keeps them from pursuing and fulfilling. What God has called them to, and you just can’t stand it anymore. And you’ve got this discontent that things cannot stay the way the same. Most of the times, jumble.
I think that, um, churches get in a position where they’re, they’re content with how they are and what, and what things are happening in their church and how things are going. Like they’re content with the old church smell they’re content with the, you know, the lackluster and passion and worship their content with a lot of things.
And I’m sure you’ve seen churches. That have just kind of grown and content with how things are, and they’re not really willing [00:11:00] to do anything about it.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think, I was reading recently. I’m almost done with a book called, canoeing the mountains. By Todd Bolsinger. And, he, he talks about several times. This is not how he defines leadership. We talked about how changed leadership in a lot of ways is , disappointing the people you’re leading at a rate that they can accept it because of where you’re going.
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: And so there is a big part of like, you, you, you said it changed leadership requires disappointing. The people you’re leading because they, they are comfortable where they’re at. They don’t want to go a different direction necessarily. And so it’s, but you’re disappointing them at a rate that they’re willing to accept because of where we’re going.
And so that Holy Discontentment there it’s such a good way to put it. Cause what we’re not talking about is a sense of urgency in this. Here’s what a sense of urgency could, you could be urgent about the [00:12:00] wrong thing, right? Um, you, you you’re a lot of times I’ve encountered churches and church members where the sense of urgency is merely about being able to pay the bills or, , making sure there are young people at the church again.
And they’ll say can’t some church just send us some young people are, you know, are can’t church just help us. Pay for, for this issue to replace this air conditioner or whatever. And, and there’s not a understanding of what’s actually happening, but a Holy Discontentment, if it’s Holy it’s, it’s driven by an understanding of the purpose of the church and the purpose of being a disciple.
And so Holy Discontentment by the very nature of being Holy will hit the target every time. Of where we’re what w what it is we need to be discontent about. And the reason we’re discontent is because we desire to be everything. God desires us to be.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. And [00:13:00] that’s, um, I think that the idea of the spirit initiating that discontent is really key here, because like you said, we can be frustrated by any number of things. And when I walked into my replant, that was. The case, I was like, this frustrates me, right. It, it just it’s disturbing to me, but those are the things that I was frustrated by where maybe not the preeminent issues facing the church.
And so I think when, when we step into a revitalization or replant situation, one of the questions perhaps we ask is, you know, God, what breaks your heart about this congregation specifically? Like, what are you. Disturbed by. And you think about the letters to the churches in rebel and read the first part of revelation.
And there were some real specific things that they were doing really good things. Some of them, and some of them were struggling with things, right. And some of them were doing, you know, had good things and bad things, but the message of the Lord to you as the leader of the church. Lord, what breaks your heart and the leaders of the church, right.
And how [00:14:00] do you help them become discontent with what the things that got that bother God or that, that aren’t consistent with his mission for the church? So, so I think that the, the Spirit’s initiation, is real key. And the other part too, is as you gotta have a vision about how things should be, right, you gotta have a spirit initiated frustration or conviction.
Uh, that things that are existing are not as they should be. Well, how should, what should it be like, right. What is this idea? So, so we’re going to get to vision soon, but there’s, there’s this idea that man, this is should not be like this. And instead you have this vision that God’s given you through the scriptures about how the church should be and what it should do and how it should relate to one another.
And that is grounded in his word, not just in your opinion or somebody else’s model of church.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So how, if you’re, if you’re a pastor in reprint revitalization and you’re seeing, man, this is what we’re lacking right now is a Holy Discontentment. How would you recommend someone [00:15:00] go about pursuing that for the congregation and not one, obviously it kind of maybe has to start with the pastor, right?
Themselves, but how does he then one, one, he doesn’t have that. How does he pursue that? And then two, how does he help the congregation
come to that? Holy Discontentment as well.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, well, you know, what do they say preaching is the steering wheel of the church or is the driver of the church of the rudder of the church. And so I think your, Your preaching, has to highlight the fact that, God’s given a vision for what the church should look like and wherever your church is less than our, wherever we are less than that, right?
God always calls us to, to follow him. And discipleship is, is must making Jesus Lord of every area of our life in an increasing way, over a period of time. Right. That’s kind of a definition. And so are there any areas where. That’s just not the case or that w that I’m as a believer or we as believers corporately, aren’t representing, what a [00:16:00] vital, vibrant body who loves Jesus and obeys God looks like.
So, so I think you, one is, is your study of scripture and your preaching of scripture, have to, You know that you have to highlight that, like here’s what God’s called us to and let the word of God be active and let the spirit of God convict people in, in ways that, that you can’t. Right. I I’ve, I’ve tried for a lot of times on Sundays to try to talk the con the congregation into doing stuff that I thought was, Hey, we should do this.
Or I was passionate about it, but the Lord wasn’t really moving in that direction. Right. And. And it was an opinion and if it wasn’t based in scripture, so, you know, I just think of like, let’s just take one simple example, you know, worship and where does, what does Psalms say about us entering into worship?
And is there any place where it says sing for joy and shout for joy and. And be thankful and be celebrative and, you know, be reflective and you all those [00:17:00] things. And perhaps, maybe the reality of our worship is not quite where, it would be in direct line with scripture. And so maybe you do a series on worship and if that’s, let’s say that’s one of your Holy discontent areas you would say, man, um, we’ve got, uh, we’ve got to think through, pray through and preach through.
What does it mean to be a vibrant worshiper of God and also lead through what does that mean for us as we come to worship, like little things, like we all got to get here on time, right. Or we got to structure some things differently where we have some scripture reading where we, you know, share some tests, it was something right.
And so I think that’s probably the way I would start doing about it is just saying, Lord, what are those areas where we’re just not, Living in a way as, as a corporate body where you want us to be, and then thinking through with your leaders and preaching and praying and, and discipling towards that.
JimBo Stewart: What would you say is the key difference or are key differences between just regular old Discontentment [00:18:00] I just don’t like the way things are and a Holy discontent. Like what, how, how do we, how do we decide? Which is which, because sometimes I think we are so set in our minds. Even, even as guys, younger guys, maybe going into a church and we’ve got a way that we think like, Oh, you know, there’s a better way to do this.
And this is the way we’ve got to do it. And, and kinda like you were just saying, like, we have an opinion or a preference about something, but I think sometimes even with that, we get confused on our preferences and decide that they are. Holy ordinances. And, uh, and it’s not just, and I think it’s one of the things we have to recognize as replenish and revitalize there’s that it’s not just the, uh, the members of a dying church that do that.
We do that. We have preferences that we hold so tightly to that we confused sometimes. And, and when things aren’t that way we’ll have [00:19:00] a Discontentment about us, but it’s not necessarily a Holy Discontentment. And so how would we go about. Differing DIR differentiating what kind of Discontentment we’re experiencing.
Bob Bickford: yeah, man. Great question. I guess, you know, one of the, one of the things, when I did this presentation, they took me to the book of Nehemiah because I think here’s a leader. Who had to overcome contentment and complacency. Like if there ever was right. People were living with a wall around their city that was, you know, just down.
So for us, that’s hard for us to understand, unless you live like in new Orleans and you got the Gates, you know, that guard your house or you’re in a gated community, but just imagine you’re living without a front door and a back door in any lock, like it’s just open, right. People can just come in. You’re vulnerable, et cetera.
So he looked at that and he was really upset by that. And, and then in the first part of Nehemiah verses three and four, here’s what it says. He understands the here’s what’s happening. And then he, he goes through this [00:20:00] process and I think maybe this will get to the answer to that question. Um, he said the remnant there in the province who had survived, the exile is in great trouble and shame.
And the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its Gates are destroyed by fire. And here’s what he says. As soon as I heard these words, I sat down and I wept and I mourned for days. Right. he, he saw something and it impacted him emotionally and he grieved over it. Now I guarantee you every single replant or that I know has grieved over the worship and the business meetings and the bylaws and the, the crazy decorations and all that kind of stuff, or I that’s all preference issues.
Right. But then it says this and he says this, I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And so, I mean, I think one of the sanctifying things to do in this process of thinking about Holy discontent is just simply saying, God is what upsets me about the church really [00:21:00] upsetting to you? Or is there something else that is great.
Yeah. Or in your mind that you are, uh, heartbroken by about our church. Right in clarifying that before the Lord, and really kind of laying that at his feet before you broadcast that, you know, we could go in with a vision to, to change worship. And it’s not that the worship may not be our style or preference, but it’s not bad.
It’s just not our style or our preference. So I think really going in and asking the Lord and spending a time in prayer and fasting and just asking him to bring clarity to, you know, is this really, um, Is what upsetting me really upsetting to you.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, one exercise I’ve heard of, uh, some leaders taking churches through is, um, studying the. The letters to the churches in revelation. And then the exercises that asking [00:22:00] if, if God were to write a letter to our church now, what, what would it say? Right. And, and comparison and contrast to the kinds of things that we see that he calls out in the seven churches and in the book of revelation. And I think that if we can be honest about that and pursue the Lord. On that and ask, even as we’re studying the seven churches, like, is this true of us? Is this true? If me, if my heart of what’s going on with me right now. And so that’s where I think, you know, a recommended resource that we, we put out all the time is, uh, flickering lamps with Henry and Richard Blackaby kind of walks through, uh, those letters to the churches in revelation and helps identify some of those things.
it’s not necessarily. To use that, but just a resource that could be helpful. I think that’s one way, like you’re saying I’m pursuing the Lord and asking the Lord, what are these things that [00:23:00] maybe need to be identified in our leadership? And just that question, man, if you really sit in that question and just think, man, if, if God were to write a letter like that to us, what would it say?
Bob Bickford: Yeah, that’s a great, a great example. And, um, you know, my, my description of it was a little open-ended and I really appreciate how you bring it back to scripture. And, and because I think that we’ve got to let the scripture speak to us as pastors and as churches and. And so I think being, um, widely read and consistently re re reading scripture, um, along with your leaders and discerning together often, what’s the character of a Christ follower.
And what’s the character of a church full of Christ followers who are following Jesus and maybe asking those questions and then looking at scriptures and then saying, well, where are [00:24:00] the places where we’re not quite there? And, uh, That may start a list of, of opportunities to begin to address, uh, that would, you know, develop Holy discontent in your, in you and in the church body that you could begin addressing through biblical means.
JimBo Stewart: well, that’s great. Um, Bob, this has been, I think, uh, the beginning of what will probably be a few different episodes where we’ll kind of walk through some of this that you’ve put out in the change equation of Holy discontent, plus. Vision plus first steps. Plus leadership is greater than a resistance to change.
This is how you overcome and build congregational momentum. So, uh, continue to tune in as we’ll dive further into the subject a little bit as we go, we’d love to hear directly. From you as our listener and how we can best serve you. What are questions you want us to discuss? What are things you’d like us to talk about and how can we join you as your boots on the ground?
Out there doing the [00:25:00] gritty and glorious work of replanting and revitalizing, dying churches. All right. Signing off.
Bob Bickford: awesome. Thanks man.