If you are anything like me, you are not a patient person.
Patience is hard.
I always hear people joke, don’t pray for patience.
We want things now. We are an instant culture. We want fast food. We want to post pictures instantly. It’s even called Instagram.
Patience is hard when it comes to leadership as well, not only because of the reasons just mentioned and the way we are wired and how our culture operates but because of how long things take in leadership.
Let me explain.
Leaders are future oriented people. One of the things that separates leaders from followers is the ability of leaders to see a desired future and move people towards it. Because of this, by the time things become a reality, leaders have lived with them for months, sometimes years.
When a church launches a new initiative, ministry, program, a building campaign, buys land or hires a new staff member, the leaders have anticipated this moment for months or years.
Patience is hard. And crucial.
For leaders, because change feels like an eternity to them, it is easy to forget how whiplashed our followers can feel when a change happens. For a leader, they have read books, prayed, talked to mentors and other leaders, listened, and waited for months to launch something. When their followers give pushback, they think the problem is with the followers (and it may be), but often they are not giving their followers the same time to process the change as they had to think about the change.
If you are in a spot as a leader who is about to make a change or launch something, here are some ways to handle it:
- Be patient. Yes, you may need to wait a little longer. The time may not be right, the funds may not be there, the momentum may not be in your corner. You may need to have a little more patience.
- Give people time. If you took weeks or months to research and process this decision, give your followers at least some time to sit with it. Let them ask questions. Just because someone has questions or gives pushback does not mean they are being divisive or are not on board. They are processing.
- Be honest about the loss, not just the excitement of the future. When discussing a change, talk about the loss. With every change there are gains and losses. Leaders see the gains, followers see the losses. Leader, look at the losses and talk about them, let your followers know you hear them, but help them see the gains.
- Be excited and decisive. At some point the time for patience and waiting is over, and it is time to be decisive and move forward. When is that time? It depends on the situation, but you are the leader, so you’ll know.