Is change a bad thing or a good thing?

There are people who resist any change.  Their argument may be as simple as ‘we have been doing it this way for years.’  On the other extreme are people who seem to want to change just to change.  They might think it is strange to do something the same way twice.  I believe that neither extreme is good.

For me, to never change is to stop growth while to always be changing can be a failure to value what has come before us.

With this in mind, I attended a three hour workshop on change today.  I would like to share what I think about change in light of what I heard at the workshop.

Each of us reacts to change differently.  Of course, it can depend on what is being changed.  Changing something we like generally results in resistance while if we never liked it to begin with, our response might be ‘it’s about time they fixed that.’ 

When you hear the word ‘change’ what comes to mind?  Do you think about what you might have to give up?  Or do you ask what the change has to offer? 

The reality is that we are often facing changes in our lives.  There can be changes in jobs, health, family, and community to name a few.  Change can be superficial, happening in steps that develop over time, be continuous, or sudden and transformative.  Likewise, our response to change can range from attempts to block the change to “reckless” embrace of change without justification.  Perhaps our best response is the tentative response, listen what is being proposed, weigh the pros and the cons, and pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  A rush to judgment whether to embrace or reject the proposed change can lead to an unhealthy polarization that ignores faith and reason.

Change can be difficult.  When things are going well, it can be easy to say ‘why would we ever change this?’  Change can be difficult when first seen as the loss of something good.  Yet, are we willing to consider the possibility that the short-term loss may be result in a better future?  We cannot move to that better future without first letting go of the past.

Change can be very emotional.  Shock, denial, and anger are possible responses to change.  So is joy.  How often when we hear of change, do we rush to the negative response even before we know what the change is?

Communication is essential when seeking acceptance of change.  We need to be able to explain a purpose for the change, provide a vision of where we are going, a plan to implement the change, and to show how we all can have a role in making the change a good change.  Giving others a part to play involves them as part of the team rather than leaving them powerless in the face of change.

Communication always needs to be a two-way street.  We need to do what I just said in the last paragraph but then we also need to listen to the response of the people.  What are they saying?  Some of what they say may be a gut reaction to any change.  Some may express real concerns that will need to be addressed if the change is to be successful.

We need to communicate well.  One article in the church bulletin is not adequate.  No one method of communication is adequate.  Different people here in different ways and each time we hear it, we hear something different.  Over time we might come to acceptance.

Change can be difficult.  Yet, change is a natural process.  As Christians we acknowledge we are imperfect and that we always have to work on becoming more like Christ.  We call this conversion.  Without change, there can be no conversion.

What change is God calling you to as an individual that you might become more like Christ?

What change is God calling your community to so that it better serves God’s will?


Fr. Jeff

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