November 03, 2016

Leading Healthy Change Part 1

Written By Cary Schmidt

A Series of Posts on Transformational Servant Leadership

As a leader, should you lead change? Can you effectively lead change? Do you see things that need to change?

Good. This is a series of blog posts for you. Over several parts, we will explore how to effectively, biblically lead toward healthy change. I hope you will take the journey with us, and share it with someone you know.

So let’s dive in—part one is about the word “change.” Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Discerning Change

Is change good or bad? Yes.

Some change is bad. Some change is good. God’s Word says this clearly…

Bad Change:

Proverbs 24:21 “21 My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:” 

In context, this verse simply means “stay away from people who change God’s truth or challenge God’s authority.” It’s a reference to rebellious hypocrisy and deliberate skewing of God’s Word. In context, meddling with them “given to change” would be the opposite of “fearing the Lord and the king.” So, obviously, this is bad change.

In a present day application, the verse would stir us to value God’s Word and to never twist it, wrench it from context, or misuse it for selfish means. It would prevent us from wrongfully applying God’s Word or from twisting it to serve our own personal agenda. It would also prevent us from living lawlessly.

Romans 1:23 “23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

Romans 1:25 “25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

These verses refer to those who did exactly what Proverbs 24:21 warns against—they changed God’s Word and diminished His glory. They worshipped things “as god” or in place of God. Obviously—bad change!

Every Christian and spiritual leader should seek to discern the Word of God and what’s being “done to it” by various personalities and entities. Denominations are famous for exercising authority over God’s Word and shaping it to fit their dogma, rather than accepting its authority over them and then submitting to it and obeying it. Groups like this tend to become polarized around important but isolated aspects of God’s message, which can trend toward perverting and twisting the message of the whole.

Obviously there are varying degrees of “bad” change, but it’s important to avoid those who willfully and arrogantly ignore what the Bible clearly says in order to make it say something “they want it to say.” For instance, with sad irony, the very verse used above, “meddle not…” has often been twisted and “changed” in order for one brother to castigate another over contrived, denominational issues rather than biblical ones.

Good Change…

2 Corinthians 3:18 “18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Let’s consider healthy change.

Spiritual growth is change! This verse references the transforming, sanctifying work of the Spirit and grace of God at work in our lives. This life-long process of healthy change is taking place every moment of every day until we see Jesus. This is very good change!

Hebrews 7:12 “12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”

Thankfully, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament priesthood. He is our High Priest and through Him, we are each “believer-priests” who are given direct access to God, to come boldly behind the veil, to enter personally into His presence. This was a huge change for New Testament Israel—so huge that many of them just couldn’t accept it. Yet, what a profoundly wonderful change it is for us today.

Philippians 3:21 “21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Ah, the ultimate and final change! Jesus has promised to one day complete what He’s doing inside of us, and then to make our exterior match. This is the final redemption of my body and the putting on of that perfect new body that is awaiting our arrival in Heaven. This is awesome change!

Here’s the point…

The word “change” is subjective—it requires a context before it can be determined to be good or bad. God’s Word gives the context. “Change” that changes God’s truth, challenges His principles, or subverts His authority is always bad change. But change that facilitates His work of saving and transforming followers of Jesus is good change.

What does this have to do with leadership?

Simply—all true leadership is change. If nothing is changing, you are not leading. If the thinking of people is not expanding, someone is not leading. If Christians are not growing, someone is not leading.

If change is not needed, leadership is not needed. And if you are leading, then something will be changing.

Managers maintain. Leaders lead. Managers hold together existing systems, which grow old, ineffective, and fruitless. Leaders challenge the status quo—they ignite new vision and implement new direction.

Think of Bible leaders who implemented astounding change! Joseph. Moses. Joshua. Samuel. David. Hezekiah. Josiah. Daniel. Ezra. Nehemiah. Haggai. Zechariah. Jesus. Peter. Paul. John. And that’s the short list. Each of these led God’s people into healthy change!

Revival is change. Repentance is change. Redemption is change. And it’s all very healthy change!

Don’t demonize change—discern it.


Because more than ever, Bible-believing, courageous leaders need to lead lethargic, flatlined, or declining churches into healthy, biblical, renewing change!

Stay tuned for part two…