Mar 102014 7 Responses

Why Are We Afraid of Change?

An employee resigns and the boss panics…

A marketing plan fizzles and the company is in chaos…

A key family leaves the church and the congregation gets nervous…

Few things cause anxiety as much as change. Just the threat of it can keep someone from sleeping, raise their blood pressure, and cause them to panic.

Yet for others, change is embraced. If things aren’t changing fast enough, they might even force conditions in which change will happen. (See: Every Successful Person I Know Does This)

What is the difference? Why is the average person afraid of change?

We wouldn’t think it would be this way. As people who are always changing in a world which is always changing, one would think that we would naturally be adapted to change or as we age would be so conditioned to change that it wouldn’t bother us. However, for most people, change is a scary event.

There seems to be a simple difference between people or organizations who embrace change compared to those who fight against it:

Most people are more focused on protecting their current condition rather than striving toward a greater mission.

Without intentional effort, this will be the normal position for humanity. Because the current condition is known, understood, and livable, we seek to maintain it with small improvements. The problem is that we can never maintain the current condition. Change will happen. But when our goal is to maintain the way things are, change is seen as our greatest enemy. It becomes the source of our anxiety.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Change can be embraced, even longed for, when we no longer see our current condition as the ultimate goal but instead focus on a greater mission.

I can’t tell you why your business exists, but I can tell you why our church exists—to bring glory to God by assisting others to follow Jesus.

I don’t know why your marriage exists, but for me and Jenny, it is to bring glory to God and to be transformed into his likeness.

I don’t know why you parent, but for us it is to do everything in our power to bring glory to God by making Him known to our children.

The mission is the ultimate pursuit, not the current condition. Because of this, change is not the enemy. It can actually be a great ally because every change causes us to remind ourselves of the mission and to ensure each decision is being made with the mission in mind. (See: I Love People Who Have This)

Here is the irony: what most people see as their greatest fear is actually their greatest need. Change is necessary because without it we will not realize how much of our energy is being spent on protecting our current condition instead of using our energy to passionately pursue a greater mission.

The sad reality for a majority of people, organizations, businesses, and churches is that we do not have a major mission. There is not a goal beyond the idea of maintaining what currently is. (See: I Know Who Is In Charge of Your Family)

Therefore change is terrifying. It is the only real threat against what we are attempting.

We are afraid of change to the extent that we doubt (or don’t know) our mission.

One reason I love the people I pastor is because they have never been afraid of change. From the very beginning they have been so focused on the mission at hand that they have never feared change. The current conditions will always change. We can appreciate them now, but we know they will not be the same tomorrow. Because of this, they are not worth fighting for. Conditions come and go, but accomplishing the mission is worth everything we have.

If that can be true on a corporate level of a church, can’t that be true on an individual level as well? Can’t we become so engrossed in why God created us how he did, when he did, where he did, to whom he did that we expend every ounce of who we are in trying to accomplish that mission instead of attempting to maintain something which can never be changed?

Imagine if change was no longer feared. This doesn’t mean we embrace whatever happens in life. Sorrows, tragedies, and trying times are guaranteed. However, a vast majority of what creates anxiety shouldn’t. The natural changes of life which should excite us, too often create fear. (See: Do You Have This Symptom of Anxiety?)

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Find a mission worth pursuing and change will no longer be the great enemy. It will be another avenue pushing you toward accomplishing what is important.


7 Responses to Why Are We Afraid of Change?
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