Dealing with Resistance

How defining your goals allows leaders to better manage resistance

March 21, 2019

Anytime we do important work, we WILL face Resistance

It is pretty much a guarantee. 

People won’t like what we’re doing. They may even let us know (to our face). They’ll cheapen our hard efforts and make us feel bad. And a common tendency would be to compromise – to give in and give up. Some of us may even take those comments personally.

Sometimes Resistance is loud. People will tell us they don’t like what we’re doing and ask a million questions about our motives. They may hold some kind of campaign and protest. Or they’ll suggest that what we’re doing isn’t important. 

Other times (maybe more often?), Resistance is quiet and passive. Nothing specific is said, but there’s a lack of involvement or excitement that shows us they don’t like what we’re doing. Resistance can even take place in our own mind.

SO… what do we do about it?

Before I offer a powerful tool to keep us on track, here are 4 steps for dealing with Resistance:

1. Recognize Resistance is inevitable. It will show up. It’s not going to go away. Ever. That means what we are doing is starting to work and it’s being noticed. 

2. Embrace your team and community. You have a group of people right here in this thread who wants to help you succeed. If you’re taking something personally, LET US KNOW. You are not alone! We are here for you! If you face resistance, we can be praying for you, and help you lead.

3. Greet Resistance when it shows up. The worst thing we can do is ignore the Resistance. Begin by saying “hello Resistance!” when it shows up in whatever form it takes. And in your head, just whisper to yourself “I think I’m facing Resistance right now.” This simple phrase activates the part of your brain that is more deliberate and thoughtful rather than fast and thoughtless. 

4. Stay focused on our end game. Specifically on Sunday morning’s our end game is that people would think “I’m coming back next week.” We must stay focused on this and remind ourselves and our team members that every Sunday is someone’s first Sunday and we want to eventually bring them into a growing relationship with Christ. 

A powerful tool for staying on track… 

Clarify the win. 

Another way to deal with Resistance is to clarify the win. Everyone wants to win. When we are clear on what it looks like to win, people can better evaluate what we’re doing. Most people are already evaluating what we are doing based on their own inner-defined win. Sometimes this is what there’s Resistance – what we’re doing doesn’t match THEIR win.

Your role: Restate the win frequently. It may feel like we are a broken record at times, but this just means what we are saying is starting to spread. We must remind people why we are so fanatic about making the Sunday experience “irresistible” so we can let God do the work only he can do. 

QUESTION: Have you experience Resistance in your role as a leader? 

QUESTION: Are you prepared to greet Resistance this week and next? (And the week after that?) 

QUESTION: How do you deal with Resistance when it shows up?

(Inspired by Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and Andy Stanley’s 7 Practices)