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  Union Bethel RZUA Church

Pastor: Rev. Dr. Lewis Knight, Sr.

150 Years

1869-2019

MEN’S DAY PRESENTATION

“THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE”

UNION BETHEL RZUA CHURCH

(MARCH 23, 2014)

RET. COLONEL ALFRED H. WHITLEY

GIVING HONOR TO GOD, GOOD AFTERNOON AND THANK YOU FOR THAT VERY FINE INTRODUCTION.

REVEREND GHEE, MEMBERS OF THE PULPIT, DEACONS, TRUSTEES, MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH, CHOIR, USHERS, AND CONGREGATION, I AM BOTH HUMBLED AND HONORED TO HAVE BEEN ASKED TO SPEAK TO YOU TODAY, ESPECIALLY ON THIS OCCASION OF MEN’S DAY AND ESPECIALLY BECAUSE I’M REALLY NOT THAT GREAT OF A SPEAKER.

I MAY HAVE TOLD SOME OF YOU THIS STORY BEFORE, BUT SEVERAL YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS ASKED TO GIVE A SPEECH AT A BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENT IN WEST VIRGINIA, ONE OF THE PEOPLE ATTENDING THE EVENT, SITTING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, FELL ASLEEP DURING MY SPEECH. HE EVEN PUT HIS HEAD ON THE TABLE AND WAS SNORING. NEEDLESS TO SAY HIS WIFE SITTING NEXT TO HIM BECAME SO EMBARRASSED BY THE SITUATION THAT SHE TOOK HER SPOON AND WACKED HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH IT AS HARD AS SHE COULD. WHEN SHE DID THAT, HE LIFTED UP HIS HEAD AND SAID, “HONEY YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO HIT ME A WHOLE LOT HARDER THAN THAT, I CAN STILL HEAR HIM”.

SO, IN ORDER TO PREVENT ME FROM PUTTING YOU TO SLEEP THIS AFTERNOON, I INTEND ON BEING EXTREMELY BRIEF AND TO THE POINT ESPECIALLY ON THIS MEN’S DAY WHEN WE GET TO REFLECT UPON THE MANY GREAT MEN WHO HAVE HELPED MAKE UNION BETHEL AND THIS COMMUNITY WHAT THEY ARE TODAY.

THEY WERE MEN LIKE CLARENCE “COLEY” COLEMAN, ARTHUR “SONNY BOY” MORTON, JOHN HENRY STITH, JOHN ROLAND STITH, REVEREND PEARSON, REVEREND PASCHAL, HAYWARD STITH, JOHN SEWARD, HENRY WYCHE, STERLING “MOOSE” BURNETT, BENJAMIN “BUSTER” COLEMAN, DEACON GREEN, AND MANY MORE.

THEY ARE NOT WHAT I WAS ASKED TO SPEAK ABOUT TODAY, BUT IT DOES MY HEART GOOD TO BE ABLE TO MENTION THEIR NAMES BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY MEANT TO THIS CHURCH AND COMMUNITY.

PURPOSE

WHAT I WAS ASKED TO SPEAK ABOUT TODAY IS THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE. CHANGE IS SOMETHING ALL OF US ARE FAMILIAR WITH WHETHER IT BE CHANGE ON THE JOB, CHANGE IN OUR FAMILIES, CHANGE IN OUR HEALTH, CHANGE IN THE COMMUNITY, OR CHANGE IN THE CHURCH.

OVERVIEW

IN ORDER TO COVER THIS TOPIC, THE FIRST THING I WILL TALK ABOUT IS WHAT IS CHANGE. AFTER THAT, I WILL COVER LEADERSHIP AS A KEY COMPONENT OF CHANGE. THIRD, I WILL TALK ABOUT WHY WE RESIST CHANGE. AND THEN LAST, I WILL TALK ABOUT HOW TO MAKE CHANGE WORK.

WHAT IS CHANGE?

INSOFAR AS CHANGE IS CONCERNED, IN ITS SIMPLEST FORM, IT IS ABOUT DOING THINGS DIFFERENT, THINKING OUT OF THE BOX, OR DEVIATING FROM STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES OR PRACTICES. IT CAN ALSO BE VIEWED AS DOING SOMETHING UNUSUAL OR ABNORMAL TO SAVE TIME OR MONEY, ACHIEVE A DIFFERENT RESULT, OR PRODUCE A DIFFERENT SERVICE OR PRODUCT.

AS AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EXECUTIVE IN THE GOVERNMENT, I DEAL WITH CHANGE ALL THE TIME WHETHER IT BE TECHNOLOGY DRIVEN IN TERMS OF NEEDING TO LEVERAGE THE CLOUD AND MOBILE COMPUTING SYSTEMS OR WHETHER IT BE BUSINESS DRIVEN IN TERMS OF NEEDING TO ADJUST TO BUDGET CUTS, A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN, OR A DEMAND FOR INCREASED LEVELS OF SERVICE.

A MAJOR CHANGE THAT OCCURRED HERE AT UNION BETHEL WAS THE RECENT INSTALLATION OF REVEREND GHEE AS OUR PASTOR. HE HAS DIFFERENT IDEAS ABOUT HOW TO DO THINGS AND HE IS WORKING WITH MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH TO BRING ABOUT A BETTER MINISTRY. IN OTHER WORDS, HE IS INTRODUCING CHANGE AND AS THE LEADER OF UNION BETHEL, HE IS THE RIGHT PERSON TO DO THIS. HE IS DOING WHAT PASTORS ARE SUPPOSED TO DO.

LEADERSHIP AS A KEY COMPONENT OF CHANGE

THIS BRINGS ME TO MY SECOND POINT, LEADERSHIP AS A KEY COMPONENT OF CHANGE. IN ORDER FOR CHANGE TO BE EFFECTIVE, IT NEEDS A COMPONENT THAT HAS A VISION ABOUT THE CHANGE AND THAT IS ABLE TO MOTIVATE AND MOBILIZE OTHERS TO IMPLEMENT THE CHANGE. THE COMPONENT THAT DOES THIS IS LEADERSHIP. ANYONE CAN BECOME A LEADER, BUT IT IS NOT EASY TO BE A GOOD LEADER. A GOOD LEADER POSSESSES IMPECCABLE CHARACTER, INTEGRITY, AN ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE AND PLAN EFFECTIVELY, EMPATHY, PATIENCE, ACCOUNTABILTY, ENERGY, AND A WILLINGNESS TO WIN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF OTHERS WITHOUT THE POWER OF POSITION.

TITUS 1:7-14 DESCRIBES A LEADER AS SOMEONE WHO MUST BE ABOVE REPROACH. IT SAYS, “HE MUST NOT BE ARROGANT OR QUICK TEMPERED OR A DUNKARD OR VIOLENT OR GREEDY FOR GAIN, BUT HOSPITABLE, A LOVER OF GOOD, SELF-CONTROLLED, UPRIGHT, HOLY, AND DISCIPLINED. HE MUST HOLD FIRM TO THE TRUSTWORTHY WORD AS TAUGHT, SO THAT HE MAY BE ABLE TO GIVE INSTRUCTION IN SOUND DOCTRINE….”

YOU CAN ALSO SAY THAT A GOOD LEADER IS A SERVANT. ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL IMAGES IN THE LIFE OF JESUS IS WHEN HE WASHES HIS DISCIPLES’ FEET IN JOHN 13. WHEN HE FINISHED, HE SAID TO THEM, “YOU CALL ME TEACHER AND LORD, AND YOU ARE RIGHT, FOR SO I AM. IF I THEN, THE LORD AND TEACHER, WASHED YOUR FEET, YOU ALSO OUGHT TO WASH ONE ANOTHER’S FEET.” JESUS, OF COURSE, WASN’T TALKING ABOUT FEET. HE WAS TALKING ABOUT SERVANT-LEADERSHIP.

IT IS AN INTERESTING CONCEPT, ONE THAT I’VE TRIED TO EMULATE FOR MOST OF THE LATTER PART OF MY CAREER. IN OTHER WORDS, GREAT LEADERS FOCUS ON SERVING THOSE WHO FOLLOW THEM. THEY STRIVE TO MAKE THE PEOPLE THEY WORK WITH SUCCESSFUL AND ABLE TO ACHIEVE THEIR MAXIMUM POTENTIAL. THE BOTTOMLINE IS THAT GOOD LEADERSHIP HELPS MAKE CHANGE EASY FOR US TO ACCEPT.

WHY WE RESIST CHANGE                    

THIS BRINGS ME TO MY THIRD POINT OF WHY WE RESIST CHANGE. AS YOU MIGHT EXPECT, WE RESIST CHANGE FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS, BUT I’VE NARROWED THEM DOWN TO JUST FOUR.

THE FIRST REASON WE RESIST CHANGE IS BECAUSE WE ARE COMFORTABLE AND ALIGNED WITH THE STATUS QUO. WHAT THAT MEANS IS THAT WE’VE INVESTED TIME AND ENERGY IN THE WAY WE CURRENTLY DO THINGS AND WE DO NOT WANT TO LET GO. CHANGE ESSENTIALLY RESETS US BACK TO ZERO AND WHAT WE DID BEFORE WILL NO LONGER MATTER.

THE SECOND REASON WE RESIST CHANGE IS BECAUSE IT IS SEEN AS A THREAT TO TRADITION AND HERITAGE. WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT OUR ANCESTORS HAVE DONE TO GET US TO THIS POINT AND DESPITE THE POTENTIAL BENEFIT, WE TEND TO AVOID MAKING ANY CHANGES OUT OF RESPECT FOR THEM. WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO CHANGE AND STILL RETAIN THE TRADITION AND HERITAGE THAT MAKE US UNIQUE.

THE THIRD REASON WE RESIST CHANGE IS BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF FAILURE. THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES THAT CHANGE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. SO DEPENDING ON OUR MARGIN FOR FAILURE, WE WILL NATURALLY BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES. BECAUSE OF THE BREADTH OF THE CHANGE AND HOW FRAGILE AN ORGANIZATION IS, IT MAY SERIOUSLY HURT THE ORGANIZATION’S PERFORMANCE.

THE FOURTH AND FINAL REASON WE RESIST CHANGE IS BECAUSE OF A FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN. CHANGE IS NOT ONLY UNKNOWN, IT IS ALSO UNCERTAIN AND WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE OUTCOME. CONSEQUENTLY, THERE IS AN ELEMENT OF FEAR ABOUT WHAT THE CHANGE WILL DO.

HOW TO MAKE CHANGE WORK

THE FINAL POINT I WILL COVER IS HOW TO MAKE CHANGE WORK. MANY OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO DO WERE ALREADY COVERED WHEN WE TALKED ABOUT GOOD LEADERSHIP.

THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT THING WE NEED TO DO IS CAREFULLY COMMUNICATE WHY THE CHANGE IS NECESSARY. THESE COMMUNICATIONS NEED TO BE CLEAR, COMPLETE, AND CONSTANT. IN OTHER WORDS, THERE SHOULD BE NO ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS AND ACCEPTS THE CHANGE.

ANOTHER THING WE NEED TO DO IS TO LINK THE PROPOSED CHANGE TO A PAST TRADITION OR HERITAGE. AS MENTIONED EARLIER, IT IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN A CONNECTION WITH THE PAST.

A THIRD THING WE NEED TO DO IS ALLOW EVERYONE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE INPUT TO THE CHANGE. THIS WILL ALLOW US TO DEVELOP A SENSE OF OWNERSHIP FOR THE CHANGE AND BE MORE ABLE TO ACCEPT IT. NO ONE WANTS TO HAVE CHANGE DICTATED TO THEM AND WE ALL WANT TO BE A PART OF THE PROCESS.

ANOTHER THING WE NEED TO DO IS RELATE THE CHANGE TO OUR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS AS OPPOSED TO JUST THE NEEDS OF THE ORGANIZATION. WHEN THIS IS DONE, WE WOULD BE MORE ABLE TO SHOW HOW THE CHANGE IMPROVES RELATIONSHIPS AND ALLOWS US TO BE MORE INCLINED TO ACCEPT THE CHANGE BECAUSE IT WILL PROVIDE SOMETHING WE WANT.

THE FIFTH THING WE NEED TO DO IS BE PATIENT. CHANGE IS NEVER EASY FOR ANYONE. WE NEED TO GIVE PEOPLE SUFFICIENT TIME TO PROCESS THE CHANGE AND ENSURE THAT THEY ARE ON BOARD AND READY TO MAKE THE CHANGE WORK BEFORE WE IMPLEMENT IT.

FINALLY, THE LAST THING WE NEED TO DO IS GIVE EVERYONE THE FREEDOM TO REJECT THE CHANGE AT ANYTIME EVEN AFTER IT IS IMPLEMENTED. PEOPLE WILL BE LESS LIKELY TO GO AGAINST A CHANGE IF THEY KNOW IT CAN BE REVERSED.

CONCLUSION

IN CLOSING, CHANGE IS REAL AND IT COMES IN MANY DIFFERENT FORMS. ROMANS 12:2 SAYS, “…AND BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD; BUT BE YE TRANSFORMED BY A RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, THAT YE MAY PROVE WHAT IS THAT GOOD, AND ACCEPTABLE, AND THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD.”

THANKS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TOYOU TODAY. I HOPE I HAVE GIVEN YOU SOME INSIGHT INTO WHY CHANGE IS IMPORTANT AND THAT YOU SHOULD ACCEPT CHANGE AS BEING NECESSARY FOR GROWTH AND A MEANS FOR REMAINING VIABLE.

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