EPISODE #84 – LEADERSHIP AND OVERCOMING RESISTANCE TO CHANGE
The guys wrap up this series on overcoming resistance to change in a local church. This episode the guys focus on leadership. By way of reminder, here is the change equation;
Holy Discontent + Vision + First Steps + Leadership > Resistance to Change
Leadership: a called, qualified and committed leader who navigates dangers, threats, challenges to the accomplishment of the vision-keeping the congregation united and focused and moving forward.
The leader can be a pastor or a group of lay leaders, we think churches are led best with a plurality of leaders who are often called Elders.
A key point is that whenever you, as a leader, encounter resistance to change you have to go back to vision. This is the key to renewing and reminding the people why you are there and what God has called you to do.
Resistance to Change: Any word, threat or act designed to derail, intimidate, slow or upend forward progress toward the accomplishment of God’s revealed vision
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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 the replant boot camp. So excited to be with the golden guru himself.
Bob Bickford: Geez.
JimBo Stewart: Beautiful Bob.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. I don’t know how I feel about all those adjectives you’re using before my name. So I get this, uh, I don’t like this, this happened sometimes. I had a Dom call me up and he goes, it is this the Bob Bickford, the replant Bob Bickford. And I’m like, Oh, come on, man. Like, I’m just, I’m your friend. Like, I’m your, you know, we’re colleagues. We’re, you know, so like I’m just a normal guy. Last time I checked.
I put my shoes on the same way as everybody else.
JimBo Stewart: There’s something about being platformed in way that creates that image. So, unrelated, but related to that, but unrelated to this podcast side story that you’re going to love, kinda know you love when I do this and just take and run.
Bob Bickford: I don’t know where you’re going. Makes me a little afraid from ducks. Okay.
[00:01:00] JimBo Stewart: So when, when I was in college, I asked to my freshman year, sophomore year to MC like tons of events, right? So there’s all these events and, you know, the student fair things and, you know, just using my big, loud voice and energy. I got asked all the time. To be the guy that MC whatever to, to make it fun, to make it exciting.
And, uh, so I went on a date with a girl who I was a sophomore. She was a freshmen and we’re on the date and she is the first time I ever heard this in my whole life. She looks at me and she says, I can’t believe I’m on a date with the Jimbos.
Bob Bickford: ha that’s dangerous, man. That is
JimBo Stewart: I was like, we’re done, we’re done. It’s over this is it. No more get in the car, taking you home.
Bob Bickford: Are you serious? You didn’t even go into like the Popeye’s and bust out a chicken sandwich. You just, the Apple beans or.
JimBo Stewart: That freaked me out. I [00:02:00] was done. It was, it was over. So, uh, so when you talk to any of us, either Bob or myself, even though he is the golden goose,
Bob Bickford: Well,
JimBo Stewart: we are more normal than you.
Probably just average regular guys. And
Bob Bickford: maybe even more average than they
JimBo Stewart: yeah, maybe less than average below average. So there we go. Instead of beautiful Bob Bickford below average, Bob Bickford.
Bob Bickford: There you go. That’s pretty good. Like, Hey, here’s the deal. Anybody with a computer and a microphone can have a podcast. All right. So just, you just need to
JimBo Stewart: We are below average boots on the ground.
Bob Bickford: yes. Yes.
JimBo Stewart: But I think, I think we do have some good information to talk about together, share our failures and our gained experience, uh, and, and gain knowledge through experience. And, and so this, I have [00:03:00] really enjoyed this series that we’re finishing up today on overcoming resistance to change building congregational momentum.
just as a reminder, if you haven’t listen to those episodes, go back. And you listened to the other episodes. So you can kind of get the whole equation together on resistance to change is defined in this as any word, threat or act designed to derail intimidate, slow or up end forward progress toward the accomplishment of God’s revealed vision and the church.
This is one of the biggest challenges when we’ve talked about in these episodes, what does that, where does that come from? What does that look like? And what are some things that. Help us overcome that resistance to change. And so you’ve got an equation on the right side, a resistance to change the greater than symbol right before that.
So what is greater than a resistance to change will Holy discontent plus vision plus first steps. And then today’s episode. Plus leadership. So what [00:04:00] does it look like to be the leader that God has called you to be in order to do this? And so I’ve enjoyed talking through these episodes. Bob, tell us just a little bit with, when you, you came up with this equation, when you say leadership in this equation, what do you mean.
Bob Bickford: well, the definition I’ll give you the definition and we can kind of walk through some of the components, but leadership is, Tied to a leader and leadership is what they do. And so, so, leadership by hers, how I defined it in the school, it’s a called qualified and committed leader who navigates the dangers threats and challenges to the accomplishment of the vision, keeping the congregation United focused and moving forward.
Right. So here’s the deal. There are leaders in the congregation. That’s a given, right. And oftentimes they’re in a declining or dying church. They’re the lay folks. Who have kept the [00:05:00] church going and moving. And so in the best situations, those folks are, are godly. Folks are faithful folks who have just struggled because they’ve not had good pastoral leadership or they’ve had some crises or some things happen, but you often find, you will often find in every church.
a leader that leader can be great, or it could be a gatekeeping leader or a bully leader or a controlling leader. And as the pastor, you come in and you are the shepherd leader of servant leader of that church. And so you function. And so sometimes in the beginning of the pastor’s tenure, He has to earn the credibility by loving the people well and preaching well and shepherding them well.
And then eventually, they’ll follow his leadership, but often times there are challenges to that leaders, leadership that pastors leadership. one of the great questions I think Jimbo that the guys should ask. When they go to, view [00:06:00] and view of a call for a leadership role at the church, they should ask about the tenure of the previous pastors.
And if you run into a situation where there’s been a lot of pastors that have gone through there and, and, you know, last two, three, five, 10 years, there’s some issues there and there’s some commonalities and most likely that points to the fact that the congregation has had a hard time following that pastor’s leadership for whatever reason.
And so you need to be aware of that. I’m not saying you should never accept a call to a church like that, but you need to go in with your eyes wide open, right? Because that that’s a sign of something. And so as the leader now that’s called the come in and shepherd those people who’s accountable before the Lord for the souls of those people in the welfare of that congregation, you need to know some things.
So I think you gotta be called to that place. You’ve got to be called to replanting and revitalization, and you’ve got to have this idea and this understanding that, God has. drawn you and this people together in that [00:07:00] particular, location for his purposes. And his purpose is to, to bring glory to himself and to bring people into a saving.
Relationship with Jesus. that call is vitally important because if you don’t have that call, when leadership gets hard, you’re going to bail out, right? Cause resistance to change will come. And if you don’t possess that, Strong call to the work of replanting and revitalizing and to that particular place, then it’ll get real easy to hit the eject button.
Now, in terms of the qualified, section of that GMO, you, I should introduce you now officially. I know, I think we have as Dr. Jimbo Stewart and your whole doctoral work was really around the qualifications and the skills and the abilities of a replant or in an a revitalizer. So How does that inform, you know, what we’re talking about here in terms of leaders, can any leader, common leader revitalization or replant, or did, or do we need to understand some specific things about a leader? I wouldn’t do that.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, just to show you how smart and qualified I am as a [00:08:00] doctor. the final stuff in my doctoral process is to get the paper printed and sent to the seminary so they can bind it into the book. Right? Well, you have to write the paper with a wide left hand margin so that whenever it goes in the book, there’s no room there by the binding.
So I had the brilliant idea. To have a professional print shop, print it for me. Cause I just it’s like I have to print four copies, like a thousand pages, uh, probably would be unethical to do that at the associational office. and not really feasible on my home HP printer. And so, uh, I take it to them and they say one side or a two-sided and like a moron.
I just think, Oh, there’ll be thinner if we go two-sided. So I say, two-sided, they call me and say, it’s done. And as, as they say, Oh, it’s done at that moment. It hits me that it was supposed to be one [00:09:00] sided. And I can’t turn, I can’t turn this in. Two-sided. So I now have four double-sided copies that won’t fit well into binding, that I don’t know what I’m going to do with, so, uh, maybe I’ll send you one in the mail and, uh,
Bob Bickford: you know, can we get a three ring binder notebook and just kind of, you know, bust out on Canva, which is the modern print shop deluxe. And we’ll just create like a nice little cover page for it. I think that’d be great.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. So who knows what will happen with those four random copies? So that’s just show you how, how smart and qualified of a leader I am. I just wasted a whole bunch of money and getting things printed, but, here’s here’s what is different about leadership in ministry versus leadership in general?
Right. In leadership in general, in a business or a, an organization or a team that I’m coaching or something like that. there’s very much a clear get on board or get out of the way. Right. [00:10:00] If you’re on, if we’re, you know, I know you, you were, you had dreams of being a basketball coach at one point in your life, right? And so if you were coaching a basketball team and some guy is on the team who is just not good at basketball, you’re going to make the wise and right decision as a coach to bench him or, or, or have him not be on the team. Correct.
Bob Bickford: absolutely unless I’m coaching upward basketball and everybody has to play in upward basketball. So I just, I know we’ve got a lot of Southern Baptist listeners, so I just wanted to clarify that.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. Absolutely. But if we’re, if we’re coaching a team that’s geared towards winning,
Bob Bickford: The Razorbacks. Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: there you go. There you go. then, then that’s what you’re gonna need to do. If I’m co if I’m leading, if I’m the CEO of a for profit business, that the goal of that business is to make good products or good services and make money, and you don’t contribute to that.
I you’re going to get fired. [00:11:00] Right. You’re you’re no longer going to be on the team and, and that’s not cold-hearted and that’s not wrong or mean in those situations. There’s a goal in which you’re trying to get to. And that goal transcends the people that are there. Right. And so where that changes drastically, and this is so important in ministry is the goal.
Is those people becoming something that they are not. And we have to understand in that difference and resist the temptation to lead them like a business or a basketball team. And this is why I do think it’s important that. When we read leadership material that is designed for businesses or teams or those sorts of things.
It’s one of those where the old saying, you eat the meat and you spit out the bones, right? You, you need, you need to be able to discern and leadership material. What is helpful towards our [00:12:00] actual end goal and what is not. Right. And so we are to glorify God by seeing people transformed through the word of God.
So if I’m leading in a replant and I have dysfunctional people, there’s a very real temptation to think, well, I need different people on my team. And so these people are in my way, they’re not helping me accomplish the goal. They are not equipped to help me accomplish the goal. And here’s what here would be my challenge to you.
You probably have the wrong goal in mind. The goal has to be shepherding those people into greater maturity in Christ and letting Christ transform them. And I understand your rebuttals. Well, you don’t know the people that I pastor. I know. I, I don’t, you don’t have the people I pastored, right. But look at the disciples, look at who, who God chose to use.
Right. I’ve I don’t know if you’ve been watching, I [00:13:00] thoroughly enjoyed watching the chosen. Have you been watching the chosen
Bob Bickford: But I have not, I need to repent of that. I realized, but I’ve not watched it yet.
JimBo Stewart: and I understand why you haven’t because there is a real and justified hesitancy towards any Christian portrayal through media, right?
Bob Bickford: I mean, I just, I just haven’t, I haven’t my wife and I kind of have a routine of what we do and the chosen is in it’s in our radar. It’s just not in the queue yet. I should
JimBo Stewart: Okay, look, look, I understand you’re a few years more advanced than me, but I’m just as I’m going to say, Bob, don’t, don’t get so into your routines that you can’t move something in and the chosen is worth it. The chosen is worth it. anyway, They do have such a great portrayal of the personalities of the disciples.
And you look at that and Jesus did not choose all stars, right? I mean, he did. He did not. and don’t forget, pastor, if you were honest, you’re not an all-star. You are a below average boots on the ground guy like [00:14:00] me and Bob. It God is using you. So wanted to hit this caveat on leadership of don’t mistake, all leadership principles for biblical leadership principles.
So all that to say, what does it mean to be a called and qualified leader? There are characteristics that we have found assistant in leaders that lead church revitalization and replanting efforts. Well, and by, well, I don’t. I do not use the definition that a lot of research uses, like I’ve found, I actually tracked down the actual number that most people use and where it came from.
And it came from. of seminar at fuller universe, fuller seminary a long time ago, and Peter Wagner took it and ran with it. And so for 40 years, we have been measuring success off of a average annual growth rate of 2.5% or greater for five years in a row. That’s become like the gold standard for measuring success in church.
And I pushed back [00:15:00] against that. And that’s not the standard we’re using, right. We’re using the standard of spiritual health, missional, mobilization, and discipleship culture, centered on the word of God, those types of things in pastors who have done that. Well, There are at least 13 characteristics that we have, come together.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time diving into those. We have plenty of episodes and material on that. We also have a survey we’ll link in the show notes you can take, you can go to church re planters.com. Click am I read planter, and then you can click the re planter and revitalizer characteristic survey.
Take that the, the key here. And this is so important. I try to tell everybody this, when you take that, this is a self-assessment tool, so it’s only as good as you are. Honest. So the value in it will actually be the coaching document that you get to download with it, sit down with a ministry coach or mentor, work through the reflection questions, and it’ll help you as you think [00:16:00] through.
And then I’ve got a plethora of resources for you on each of the 13 characteristics. And you can contact us directly if you want to talk more about that. But yes, I think there are certain characteristics necessary. And, and here’s what I’d say. They’re not all going to be intrinsic. The reason we have a coaching document and all these resources is what you’re trying to figure out is which ones do I lean in on that I’m already maybe naturally strong on and that’s great.
And I need to lean on those, which ones do I need to bring to a proficiency that they don’t get in the way and how do I develop and grow in those? And how do I build my team around me to be able to work well with where I’m not as strong.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, this is so helpful. I’m so glad that that a lot of guys are taking that. survey and then getting those coaching documents. Cause all of us have areas where we need to grow as leaders. And we’re not, we’re not, we’re not a fully formed and shaped leader, right? We are partially formed and a continuing to be formed a leader as we, as we move [00:17:00] in in here’s the other thing too, Jim, but I love what you said about success.
Success is greater dependence upon Jesus in my, in my life and evidence of. His work through my life. And so, yeah. We know that that will eventually, that there bears spiritual fruit, like fruit of the spirit. It does also bear numeric fruit in, in some regards. So we don’t want to dismiss that, but we also don’t want to only hang our hat on the 2.5% growth over five years.
Cause cause a lot of the, a lot of guys just don’t, they don’t see that.
JimBo Stewart: Well, here’s the other thing you could, you can accidentally grow by 2.5%. Uh, it, if the community booms around you, uh, we, we look our, our first year we grew dramatically. We grew from 30 people to 150, but a hundred of those were from a church split. And it was, it was the [00:18:00] opposite of healthy. It was not.
Helpful. It was not healthy and God gave us some right people through that, but most of those people aren’t still at the church. Um, and, and so you, if you were just going off numbers, you would think our first year was, it’s just unbelievable dynamite. God was moving miraculously. whereas I was dying of a stroke almost every day. And so there’s just, there’s so much that numbers don’t tell us. And so I appreciate that you say we don’t need to run away from seeing growth. We need to, our desires should be able to see more people become disciples. That should be a goal, and we should be able to see that. but you cannot just take an attendance number and decide if a church is healthy or been revitalized.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so this kind of gets us down towards some other parts of the definition of leadership as we lead a church forward and replanting and revitalization. So part of leadership [00:19:00] is navigating the dangerous threats and challenges to the accomplishment of the vision, right? And then with that, keeping the congregation United focused and moving forward.
So you get an influx of people they’re going to bring with them, expectations and desires that may not be in line with your vision. Right. They’re going to bring criticisms. and maybe some of the existing folks, if, if your church doesn’t grow with some of the existing folks will go, you know what, hot man?
I don’t know. Like, I don’t know if that’s. Really where we need to go. But again, we talked about vision and the plurality of leaders and helping develop that vision, right. If it’s just your vision and you’ve sprung it upon the church, frankly, it’s just your vision. Right. But going back to that podcast where we talked about the necessity of, and the protection of, discovering and forming and shaping and communicating the vision in plurality.
It becomes the church. It comes to discovery of God’s vision for the church. Well, here’s the deal. You’re going to have people who are going to [00:20:00] attack that all the time. Right. And you’re going to say, is that really what we need to do? Some people who work against it, some people who just flat out disagree with it, and then they’re going to.
They’re going to leave. Right. And they’re not going to be on board. And so Nehemiah has been a great guide for us as we’ve worked through this series. And so one of the things that he did is he, he just, kept casting the vision. He kept talking about the vision. And what you’ll see is, is that when he showed up to the city, he, he didn’t just unleash the vision that he was going to rebuild the walls.
He wrote around the city. Right. And he surveyed the city with his other leaders that had come with him. He, got a picture of where the city was broken and what needed to happen. And then one of the things that he did was he just went and was honest about what he saw and honest about the dangers of, of what he saw.
And he says this in verse 17, chapter two. He goes, you see the trouble we’re in how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its Gates burned. And then he says this, like, this is where we are, right. The [00:21:00] first, first responsibility of leadership is defining reality. This is where we are. And then he says this. Come let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer suffer ridicule.
Right? So he gives them a clear, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to rebuild the wallet. Why are we rebuilding it? Right. So that we’re not going to suffer really killed. Like, I mean, everyone was looking at Jerusalem and kind of laughing at them and, you know, they were in danger. And then he says this in verse 18.
And I told them, after he communicates a vision, I told them that the hand of my God had been upon me for good. And also the words that the King had spoken to me and they said, let us rise and build. So they strengthen their hands for the good work. So he, he, he shows them evidence as to where God has been with him.
he helps them see that the King has given him permission. And so he sets the stage here. He’s navigating in these two verses what he’s doing is he’s navigating some of the objections that people are going to have. Well, like, you know, we’re used to living like this, right? It’s like, it’s not that big a deal, right.
It’s not, it’s not. So bad. [00:22:00] And man does a King know that you’re doing this. Is this like a rebellion you’re leading all those sorts of things and is God really in this? And so, you know, we don’t get all of the unpacking here, how he explains to them that the hand of the Lord was with him. So I think that’s implied in this verse, right?
I don’t think this is just a simple, he only said these things, right. I think he explained to them how God had provided for him and for them. Uh, in where he was leading them. So, so off they go and he starts leading and then what happens next? And you’ve already said this in part of the podcast earlier, but they encounter resistance to change.
it’s a leadership moment. What do you do when somebody stands up and go? Yeah, I don’t think so. Right. Or, or you get that, you hear about the anonymous meeting, right? Or you get the anonymous letter Jimbo, I’ve gotten an anonymous letter. Right? I got one of those. And then I got criticisms and I got emails and all those things.
And people, [00:23:00] people would come to me and say things like this, Hey man, a lot of people are talking right. And a lot of people were saying, and my response to them was always this, Hey, in, unless you tell me exactly who’s saying what? I don’t want to hear it. And here’s what I’m asking you to do. I’m asking you to go to them for the sake of unity in our body.
And because this is, to be directed towards the leaders of the church, if they’re concerned, or if they have something they want to address, you can ask them if they would go to come to the leaders, right. If they don’t want to come to me, they need to come to the chairman of the deacons, or they need to come to the chairman, the pastor liaison committee or whatever, and they need to express those concerns.
Cause we do want to hear from people. Right. We want to know what their concerns are, but we can’t have people dividing the body. So, we had to deal with that and Nehemiah had to deal with that, right? He gets this letter, um, from, uh, the three guys that are his adversaries and rebuilding a wall. it, it [00:24:00] says this, verse 19, this is a great section in chapter two.
It says, but when Sanballat, and Tobiah the Ammonite and the servant of Geshem, the Arab heard of it, heard of them rebuilding the walls. It says this, they jeered at us and despised us and said, what is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the King? Right. So here we get the naysayers, like why do you do it?
Right. and so what does Nehemiah do when he gets that resistance to change? Here’s what he does. Jimbo. He goes a ride back to vision. Here’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. Right. And I love what he says here in verse 20. Love chap chapter two, man, if you don’t read any other chapter in EMI, just read chapter two, like over and over and over again.
Um, so in verse 20 it says this Nehemiah replies to them, the God of heaven will make us prosper. And we had servants will rise and build that you have no portion or right. Or claim in Jerusalem. Right. And so he just goes right [00:25:00] back to the vision. Look, here’s what God’s called us to do, rebuild the wall.
God’s going to make it happen. And this was where we’re going. And I love what he does. He just goes right back to the vision later on, they send him an, uh, an open, like an open letter and, uh, and he reads it and it, you know, they’re asking him to meet somewhere and he realizes it’s a trap and all those sorts of things.
And he just simply says, I’m too busy doing the work that God’s called me to do. I’m not going to come down there. Right. And so what does he do? He goes back to the vision and stays at the work. And that’s functional leadership. Right. And I can’t tell you how, how many times Jimbo in the early days, the first three to five years of the year, the plant, I would hear some complaint or some criticism and man, it would wreck me and it would get me off of the vision.
And I would just, I would model of my energy would be zapped and I’d just be like, okay, Well, why am I doing this? Like, Lord, I I’m raising, you know, two thirds of my salary and we’re enduring spiritual warfare and all this kind of complex. Why Lord and my. [00:26:00] Doing this right. And I would kind of have a pity party for awhile, but then I would have to go back to the vision and the call God’s called me here to lead this church forward.
And the vision is for us to develop a church here. That’s that is proclaiming the gospel and making disciples who make disciples. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. And when I would go back to the vision and go back to the work, then that will be okay. I’m all right. Like, let’s just keep going. That’d be undeterred.
But if I, if I stayed in evaluating the criticism and listening to critic land, um, man, I, I would quit a long time ago. And, uh, and so I would just encourage the guys made if you’re in that spot where you’ve been laboring for a while and you just. All you hear is the critics, man. If God’s called you there, stick it out.
And if he’s given you a clear vision, don’t be deterred, like, go for it, keep your hands at the work and just keep working. And eventually you’ll see the Lord move and you’ll see those actions, those first steps that we talked about last time. All those things through the leadership that the Lord [00:27:00] equips you and calls you to do it, that local church will lead to a better lead that church prayerfully, hopefully to a better place.
JimBo Stewart: Hmm. Absolutely. I love so much how you. Brought that back to the vision. I know there are a lot of people here and we, my concluding thought, I know a lot of people in ministry because we’ve talked about the difference between leadership in general and leadership in ministry. Maybe even feel like vision is a weird word to use or a very businessy type idea, but you, you clearly articulated it’s that clarity.
That is needed clarity of purpose that’s. So if you don’t want to call it a vision statement or a bit like cart, whatever you want to call it, but you need clarity on what it is God has called you to do, and where he has called you to lead this church. That clarity will help so much when you deal with conflict, when you deal with resistance to change because you, you, as a leader can, can just keep taking us [00:28:00] back to where we’re supposed to keep reminding us.
This is what we’re trying to do. Again, a lot of what revitalization is doing is realigning. Back. So that vision has to be biblically based because that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s the whole thing. Right. And so look, I hope you guys have enjoyed this series on overcoming resistance to change.
Great, great material from the golden guru himself and yeah. It’s been fun talking about it. Uh, we got a couple of another great episodes coming up. you don’t want to miss the next couple of episodes that we’re going to have some great guests coming on and, uh, a little teaser alert. we are working through, I, I believe we’ll be able to in a few weeks, from the time you listen to this, the next few episodes, uh, be able to offer to our listeners an opportunity for free.
Demographic reports for your community to help you understand free absolutely free. No, no strings attached, no signing up for a newsletter. No. Ask for a donation. [00:29:00] just, uh, a guy who is friends with the bootcamp. That has training and access to that who has a heart similar to ours, to help as many pastors and churches as he possibly can, without asking them for anything in return.
And we would love to be able to do that. So, uh, keep, keep an eye out, keep an ear out in the next few episodes. As we download all that material to you.