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When change comes

David Epps's picture

Change is inevitable. It cannot be stopped. It will always happen. Often the change comes when those in authority resign, die, receive new assignments, or otherwise vacant the scene. When this happens, there is almost always some uneasiness, concern, anxiety, and confusion. When change comes, what is one to do?

I have a friend whose pastor recently resigned. Who will the new pastor be? How long will it take to fill the vacancy? Who will minister in the meantime? What changes will come to the congregation? Who will stay and who will leave? What will his (or her) style, his viewpoint, and his agenda, be? How will the change affect the staff?

I have another acquaintance in academia whose popular superior retired. Again, questions will be asked about the future. How will things be difference under the new person? What will remain in place? What will be changed?

In a local law enforcement agency, the head of the agency resigned. Anxiety presents itself to the officers and staff. The normal questions, such as those already mentioned, will be asked. More questions will come. Is now the time to seek another position in another agency or perhaps embark on a new career? It is the time to stay put and see what develops?

Well, each person must do what seems best for themselves, but I do have some advice for those who are affected when a change in leadership comes:

Unless you were already thinking about making some changes, stay where you are and see what happens. It is entirely possible that things will get better for you and for the organization.

Support the policies and programs of the new boss. Opposing the new person, either to their face or, worse, behind their back, is one of the surest ways to commit professional suicide. The new boss is the boss. The old boss is out of the picture. Remember who you now work for.

If you cannot support the new person, quietly look for another job. Don’t poison the environment or the other employees either while you are working there or after you leave.

Recognize that change will always be present. One can either chafe against it, and be frustrated and bitter, or one can embrace the change and grow through the experience.

Keep Karma in mind — what goes around comes around. Or, as the Bible teaches, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he (or she) also reap.” Sow good seed. What you do and how you react will affect you in a big way over the long haul.

Earn the trust and respect of the new person in charge. And, give them a break — this is all new for them too.

See the new boss as someone that God has put in your life for your benefit. Treat them as God’s gift to you. You’ll be surprised at the long-term results.

In June of 2007, my boss and bishop, John Holloway, had a debilitating stroke. He would not return to work. Bishop John was a great preacher, a wonderful person, my good friend, and a very popular bishop.

In October of that year, in Orlando, I was elected as the new bishop and, in November, I was consecrated in a service of worship. One of my most vivid memories is that of a number of people in the back of the church who were weeping — not from joy. They were weeping because I was taking John’s place.

I had one clergyman, a month later, say to me. “You’ll never be my bishop. My bishop is lying in a hospital bed.” So, change is also potentially painful to the person who assumes a new office. But change came and, for better or for worse, we pressed on.

Change will come, nothing you can do about it. But one can decide how one will deal with it. Embrace the change if you can. Get out if you must. But always — always — do what you do with honor and integrity. That should never change.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

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