This week Barbara and I were scheduled to travel to Istanbul, Turkey to teach in a leadership conference and speak in a local church. We have made a three year commitment to go to Turkey twice a year and teach leadership. As a part of that, we will visit one of the churches of Revelation on each trip. Our airline tickets were purchased, we had scheduled the time away and we were excited about traveling to Turkey for the first time. A couple of days prior to leaving, the country coordinator for the leadership organization called and said they needed to postpone the conference due to some unrest in Turkey. As you would expect, we were disappointed, even though we preferred not to be involved in any political turmoil that may be taking place in another country.
As I thought about how I felt about the trip changing, I took notice of some things that I was considering that are involved in every change. Change is something that many people struggle with in a variety of areas. It is not limited to one particular area of your life. Here are three reasons why most people resist change, including myself.
We have an investment
One of the very first things I thought about when my trip was cancelled was the investment I had made in airline tickets. The tickets were non-refundable. Though we could get partial credit to use later, we were still going to lose a substantial amount of money. The cost to cancel and use the tickets later was $330.00 per ticket. We had made a substantial investment in travel costs and planning and it was difficult to lose a significant part of that investment.
When we face change in other areas of our lives, it is usually something in which we already have a significant investment. It may be changing jobs, buying a new home, moving to a new city or replacing clothes. It could be a program or method that we have been using in our organization for a period of time. Whatever it is, we have made a significant investment of our time, energy and talents. When changes comes, we feel like we are losing our investment. We look at it as a cost. However, the cost of not changing could be much higher. In our case, we could have found ourselves in a situation where our lives may have been in danger had we not been willing to change. That is a much higher cost. Changing does not make your previous investment worthless, it just means that what you are changing to should be worth more.
We have made plans
There are certain obligations I have that require my presence. I am a pastor so each week I prepare and present a sermon to our congregations. There are several hundred people who expect me to be present each week. We schedule several weekends for me to be away each year so that our campus pastors can preach live to their congregations. This is done several months in advance and it coordinates with our church calendar so everyone knows what to expect. We had scheduled a series and our campus pastors had prepared to speak on that Sunday. I had prepared the lessons for the leadership conference. We had made some adjustments at my business so things would continue to run smoothly. A lot of preparation had taken place for this trip. With one phone call, most of it was set aside. There was nothing life shattering about it, but it was disheartening that things you had spent time and energy planning were not going to work out. Not to mention we were left to plan something different for these seven days which in itself has been a challenge.
The same is true in other areas of change. We spend time working to make our job better, house nicer, program or event operate smoothly. We may have things in such order that our recurring annual events run seamlessly because we have prepared so well in advance. Then a program changes or a business reorganizes and what we had been planning for is suddenly thrown by the wayside. This will often cause us to resist change because we have invested our time into planning what was previously scheduled. Our level of frustration often goes up because we feel our time has been wasted or because there is something new we are going to have to learn or plan. Change will often wreck your plans. Don’t allow it to wreck your attitude.
We have expectations
This was going to be our first trip to Turkey. We had done some research on things to see and items to purchase while there. I was excited to begin visiting the seven churches. I looked forward to eating new food, learning about a new culture and meeting new people. There was actually a lot of excitement for Barbara and I as we expected this to be another growing and learning experience as we also helped others grow. Nothing we expected will happen this week. As they say, the air was let out of our balloon. Our expectations for that trip would have to wait and our expectations for this week would need to change.
One of the most difficult parts of change has to do with expectations. When things are planned, there are certain things that we expect to happen. We enter marriage or our first job with a set of expectations. We are looking for certain things to happen. Then what actually happens is different from our expectations and we are disappointed. One of the best things we can learn to do is to change our expectations. We often expect changed programs, jobs, homes or marriages to produce a result they were not intended to produce. When our expectations are not met, we struggle with disappointment. My change this week allowed me to write this post. This Sunday I will get to preach live at our Bertie campus, which I have not been able to do yet this year. Two of our grandchildren had a sleepover with us last night. None of these things were what I expected when the week started, but it did not stop me from being excited about new things because I changed my expectations.
What things do you struggle with where change is concerned? How might you implement a different approach based on these three thoughts? I would love to hear your feedback. Change happens!