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The Perception of Change

I’m a change advocate.  Change has never really scared me, and I look forward to opportunities to do it the right way.  However, I’ve also learned that the the perception of many towards the change you advocate is oftentimes negative.  Strange, huh?  Yet, that’s the result of change.  There will always be the battle between perception and reality.

What was  perceived  to be the reality before the change, and what is  perceived  to be the resulting reality after the change; are different from the actual reality.  The problem is that sometimes perception can be so far from reality that it leads to a new conflict.  As is often the case when you advocate and lead change, you as the leader will bear the burden of criticism due to the perceptions of others.

Over the past few months at our church, I’ve made a pretty significant change to our mid-week programming and the change has been overwhelming positive.  It’s been a long-time in the planning, yet was done with prayerful intentions and a high-degree of reluctance to do so.  However, it’s been the right thing for our church at this time. Even in that atmosphere, there is still the battle between perception and reality.

The perception is that I never liked what was here before.  The reality is different.

The perception is that I ran off people who loved the existing program.  The  reality  is different.

The perception is that I don’t like programs that require large groups of committed volunteers.  The  reality  is different.

The perception is that now I’ve created a program of lesser value.  The  reality  is different.

I could go on and on and on about perception vs. reality; but I’m still left living with the perceptions of others.  And that’s going to be allright.  You can’t control someone perceptions of you and your leadership.  [WARNING: I’d tell you to keep an eye out, if the perception of everyone around you is something different than you; that could very well be the sign that you’re wrong and they are right! The perceptions I speak of are from people that aren’t on the “inside” of the change that’s being made, I speak of those that are solely making their perceptions on what they see from a distance.]

The truth is that you can only control your own personal actions, and the steps you take to help kids and families connect with God through the ministry of your church.  Learning to live in a place of health in spite of unhealthy perceptions is not always easy, but it’s required if you’re going to advocate for change.  Being a change agent in a place that even demands for change will not be easy, but it takes someone willing to sacrifice themselves to current perceptions in order to create a longer-lasting perception based in reality.  And that reality takes time.

Are you committed to making the change in spite of the initial perceptions?  Let’s hear from your own journey…

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.