July 24, 2017—Why is change so hard to achieve? One explanation is the phenomena and power of homeostasis. Whenever a leader attempts to bring about change he or she will most certainly encounter resistance, if not outright sabotage. While we can find some comfort in the notion that reactivity is unimaginative, and therefore predictable, sabotage has a thousand faces. The fun thing about sabotage (if one can be non-reactive about it), is that while we can expect it, we will always be surprised at the forms it takes. For most of us, we never see it coming.
The preacher was annoyed because an elderly man kept falling asleep during his sermon every Sunday morning. So one day he said to the man’s grandson, “If you can keep your grandfather awake I’ll pay you a quarter every week.”
The ruse worked for two weeks. The old man was alert and listened to the sermon. But on the third Sunday the preacher found that the old man had fallen asleep again. After the service the preacher sent for the boy.
“I’m disappointed. Didn’t I promise you a quarter a week to keep your grandfather awake?” asked the preacher.
“Yes,” replied the grandson, “but Grandpa gives me a dollar a week not to disturb him.”
Homeostasis resists change. Every move toward change seems to be met with a counter-move in the form of resistance, sabotage, entrenchment, confrontation, opposition, passive aggressive strategies, or sheer stubbornness. Experienced leaders never underestimate the power of homeostasis to reestablish systemic equilibrium.
By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning.
Adapted from Perspectives on Congregational Leadership. The Center for Lifelong Learning offers clergy opportunity for peer-coaching on issues related to congregational leadership in its post-graduate program, Leadership in Ministry workshops. Four locations are available: Atlanta, Boston, Portland OR, and West Virginia. To learn more about the Leadership in Ministry workshops click on the link.