The Case for Gradualism
My Facebook news feed recently captured several images of gas pump prices. Ubiquitous posts of ubiquitous subjects are nothing new to social media images. Purchasing gas below $3 per gallon, however, was worthy of a little celebration. So I clicked like.
I’m not old (relatively). But I do remember buying hard copies of music in brick-and-mortar stores. I can also remember buying gas below $1 per gallon—back in the days when maps were folded in the glove compartment. I miss the gas prices. I don’t miss the origami madness of refolding the map.
It was not so long ago that $3 per gallon gas was quite unthinkable. In fact, back then, if we jumped overnight from $1 per gallon to $3 per gallon, the White House phone lines would have lit up. People would have revolted. We would have unfolded our maps and charted our way to Washington.
The gradual path of rising gas prices has been painful but—for the most part—tolerable. People actually buy the Prius now. No one is speculating about one-upping the Excursion. When change occurs in steps, people have time to let it settle in increments. Like climbing a thousand steps, you can get there with enough time.
Not every change can occur gradually. In the church, fires exist. And someone has to break the glass and douse the flames with an extinguishing agent. Quick changes make messes. But not every change requires a fire marshal leader. Many changes can occur gradually. And when gradual change is possible, one of the worst things you can do is create a fire to expedite the change. Fires can get out of hand, and they are always destructive. Additionally, most people don’t like to follow arsonists.
Even when the people of the church explicitly state they are ready for change, accomplishing bulk changes in rapid fashion is a like a shock to the body. People say they’re ready for the shock, but even when they’re prepared, it still hurts. The leader shocks the church. People shout. Then the leader wonders why they shouted.
“You said you were ready!”
“But that hurt!”
It happens all the time.
If you’re a leader, and you have the time to make the change, then take the time. Unfold your map, plot your course, charge up your Prius, and enjoy the journey. And don’t forget to post pictures to Instagram.