Getting People On Your Side

Did you ever have the feeling that the whole world is against you? Well, sometimes it is! I’ve learned that people oppose you for one of two reasons, one good and one not so good.

Arguing

That’s a Bad Idea!

They oppose you because you have a dumb idea. People legitimately oppose weak proposals, bad ideas, mistakes, wrong opinions. You wouldn’t want your friends to humor you if your idea falls in that category. They are doing you a favor by opposing you. When someone lets you know you are wrong they are acting as your friend. Early in my ministry one of our elder meetings was going to fall on April 1. The chairman of the board had wonderful (read devious) sense of humor. We conspired to create a plan to show appreciation to the ministry workers by inviting them to come to the elders meeting. We were, however, going to invite them with something like this, “It has come to the attention of the elders that there are some issues in your ministry that we need to talk about.” Our intent was to get them a little nervous, have them come to the meeting and then say, “April Fools! It has come to our attention that we need to express our heartfelt thanks to you. I asked my dad on the phone what he thought of the plan and what he would do if he received a note like that. He simply said, “I’d quit.” Nothing more. I realized he was not on board with my idea because it was a foolish one that certainly wasn’t worth the risk. People oppose good ideas, though, for yet another reason. People will oppose good ideas and bad ideas if they are not brought into the process. When they are simply told the way things will be, normal people take time to adjust. Or, they don’t adjust. Either way they push back. Deliver the news and expect trouble.

Involve me!

How do you involve people in the process? How do you preempt that natural resistance? How do you get people cheering for you instead of rooting against you? Here are a few simple ways.

  • Vote early and often. As soon as you realize you need to change, as soon as you recognize you have a decision to make, start talking about it. Give people as much lead time as possible. Bring it up frequently so no one can complain that they’ve never heard of this.
  • Ask questions. Solicit feedback. “What do you think I should do?” “What would you do if you were me?” How would you recommend I do this?” “Do you know any resources that will help me?”
  • Take the extra step. I think the reason not to involve other people is that it takes longer. It is more work. It slows you down. I would suggest, however, that it isn’t as much work as dealing with the opposition you might get because you didn’t take the extra step to involve them earlier.
  • Give them responsibility. The fastest way to get someone on your side is, well, to ask them to be on your side. Give them something they can do to help you. Not only will it help you, it will give them some investment in the success of the outcome. They will pull for your instead of against you.

It really doesn’t matter if you are changing a multi-million dollar corporation or changing plans for your family vacation, taking a few extra steps to get people on your side will pay big dividends.

Lessons to Learn from Somone Else’s Leadership Pitfalls

We recently had a remodel in our children’s ministry, space. The team had been in place longer than any children’s ministry team I’ve ever heard of. They loved each other and loved the kids.

In the remodel, the crew took years worth of posters off the wall. They covered murals that had been there since before any of the children in the class were born. The classrooms got state-of-the-art, and I mean art literally, magnetic chalkboard paint (I didn’t even know there was such a thing and can vouch that it smells terrible!).

Within a couple weeks, however, of the completion some of the staff was struggling. They felt left out. They didn’t really want all the upgrades. Some of the work they had previously done had been discounted. Finally, this all came to a head. They had a “summit” meeting and got the air cleared. Everything is now as good as it was or better.

After talking with the primary leader, here are some lessons she learned that I hope you won’t have to learn on your own!

Speed Kills

A budget year was ending. The team recognized the window would quickly close on their funds. And, they wanted to disrupt the smallest number of Sundays, so the whole remodel took less than two weeks — from final plan to implementation. Everyone was consulted. But, the painters had to take down the posters and put them in a pile. The teachers found themselves scrambling to get their room workable in time to teach.

The primary takeaway is that speed kills. This same change, done over two months, would have been nothing but positive. Rational people take time to adjust to change and new routines. When we take time, we can bring them along. When we rush, they will rightly protest.

Over-reliance on Email

Because this change had to happen quickly, emails exploded. Everyone was kept in the loop with every email. The leaders discovered, that while the email was good for information, it wasn’t good for emotionally connecting with the change. Phone conversations or face-to-face meetings, though time intensive and emotionally exhausting, perhaps, would have been much better preparation for a change of this magnitude.

Flash-point

The first few days gave a hint that not all was well on the team. At first there were scattered sarcastic or snarky comments. A couple workers had talked with each other about their frustrations and let it leak to the leaders. It would blow over, the leaders thought to themselves. And, many times it does. It is not a bad strategy generally to let things run their course and see what happens. It became obvious, however, that something needed to be done when the teachers began to tell the kids about their frustrations. It affected the ministry then and a summit meeting was called.

Confrontation Is The Pathway to Peace

One of the hardest things to believe, for those new to Christian leadership, is that confrontation will actually resolve conflict. It feels like confrontation escalates conflict. And, for a short time, it does. It also says, “You are important to me and I cannot bear what has come between us.” That message combined with the forgiveness of Christ wins the day almost every time.

Bless Your Neighbors

Dave Ferguson shared some good ideas on the Verge Blog this week. It struck me as an easy way to think about the relationship building process. He gave 5 key activities:

B- Begin with prayer. We want you to ask, ‘God how do you want me to bless the people in the places you’ve sent me to?’
L- Listen. Don’t talk, but listen to people, their struggles, their pains, in the places God sent you.
E- Eat. You can’t just check this off. It’s not quick. You have to have a meal with people or a cup of coffee. It builds relationships.
S- Serve. If you listen with people and you eat with people they will tell you how to love them and you’ll know how to serve them.
S- Story. When the time is right, now we talk and we share the story of how Jesus changed our life.

Who will you bless this week?

It’s Harder

My beautiful daughter I have two daughters who work at Starbucks. My daughter Leslie, pictured here, has worn the green apron for over a year and loves her job. She loves the ‘regulars’. She likes the pace. She likes the routine. She likes, well, everything but the coffee (But, that’s beside the point).

She recently switched stores. She was instantly off-balance at the new store. The 2% is on the right side of the refrigerator instead of the left side. Their lids were in a place that slowed down each drink by a few seconds and that bothered her. But, what really bother her was that she didn’t know the people.

This became even more clear to her this past week when she turned took a substitute shift at her old store. The regulars came in, some made special trips just to see her. One stayed after her shift just to catch up. She loves them and they love her back.

She was relaying all this to me, telling me what it was like to go back and she said something we all need to hear. She said, “It was so comfortable to go back to the people I worked with that I knew and love. It was so great to see the ‘regulars’ that were glad to see me. And I guess that’s it,” she continued, “It’s just harder at the new store. I don’t really know my coworkers, though I’m slowly getting comfortable with them. And, I just have to work at reaching out to the ‘regulars’ at the new store. I haven’t been there long enough.”

I hadn’t seen anyone make that kind of effort in a long time. So, her words rang true — it IS hard work to get to know new people. And, that’s why we don’t.

That’s why a small group wants to stay together for seven years and no one can make their way in. The work is harder than either the group or the new person wants to admit. That’s why neighbors don’t know who lives down the street. That’s why people are scared to death when they head to church for the first time. That’s why people will come to a class on evangelism, but don’t really want to use what they learn.

It is HARD work to love people. Just ask Jesus.

Change without Gospel

The Bible presents a moral obligation to live according to God’s design, law, or character. However you want to describe it. Husbands should love their wives. It says that. You should not be angry or gossip or steal. Those are not options. The Bible is clear.

Yet, if I create a plan to accomplish those changes without the gospel I am tying a complex knot of problems. On the one hand, things get better. Marriages become better. People become more honest. Life is better and people are happier.

On the other hand, the absence of the gospel presents several problems:

    The only true transformation takes place when the Holy Spirit changes a person through their faith in the gospel. So, I have created the appearance of a change without true heart change. This will be a temporary reformation at best.
    The person working at changing will be frustrated. They are attempting to produce fruit which can only come from abiding in Christ.
    Self effort is always a substitute for the gospel. It always has been the gospel’s chief rival.
    Worst of all, if a person’s life gets better apart from the gospel by working at things the gospel is supposed to change were it to come, their felt need for the gospel will diminish. In other words, by helping them reform, I may be making it harder for them to respond. While looking like it is better, it is actually getting worse for them.

What to do?

As we apply the scriptures, as we structure church programs, as we build models by which people improve their lives, we must be clear about the gospel. We must go through the gospel instead of going around the gospel.