Guiding People Through An Ever Changing World

Last week, our state announced that masks are optional indoors and out for those who are vaccinated. The Archdiocese responded a few days later, affirming the new policy, so as a parish, we did our best to spread the word. As people walked up on Sunday and told them that masks were optional, they had a spectrum of emotions. Some people tore off their masks and threw them into the air as they had just graduated. Their maskless faces revealed large smiles. And then there were people, when hearing that there would be maskless individuals in the church building, turned around and got in their cars to watch the live stream.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the news. After having a mask required in most settings for a year, I had it on hanging around my chin like a bit of beard cozie. As states remove restrictions around mask-wearing and social distancing, you might be feeling an array of emotions. And while each of us needs to deal with them, we also have to be aware that our parishioners are doing the same. Current events are a good reminder of how to guide others through change.


Change never happens at a comfortable pace. It either comes out of nowhere (e.g., coworker leaving), or it never seems to go fast enough (e.g., hiring someone to fill a position). How you view the change depends on how you’ve positioned yourself. If there is an innate amount of trust in God, then you’ll have a better time navigating through it.

As leaders, we have to remind the people in our parish to lean on the Lord. If change is moving too slowly, we need to remind people to be patient and give them hope. If the change is moving too quickly, we have to help them slow down and look at the big plan. In the end, we as leaders need to make sure we are accompanying the flock through the uneasiness of change.


You cannot overcommunicate change. You can miscommunicate it, and that is why as change is announced, it is critical the right people know so that they can reinforce and affirm the message. Identifying those people during quick change is difficult, so don’t wait for the next pivot as a team, discuss specific potential scenarios and how the information will get shared and dispersed. Remind one another who is responsible for communicating what and don’t be afraid to check in. When you communicate effectively, you can diffuse emotions and comfort those who are struggling with what is occurring around them.


Your views on the change are going to differ from others. Whether you are excited or anxious, remember people will react differently. Being receptive to how people handle change is critical for leaders. Next time a significant change occurs, be sure to listen and affirm the other person’s emotions. You don’t have to agree with them, but letting them know that they’ve been heard will let them know that you can be trusted. With that trust, you can navigate through the unknown together and help them embrace the road ahead.

As leaders, we are called to bring vision and accompany others through times of uncertainty. While we need to remain adaptable and flexible, it is critical not to leave others behind. As we go through these changes, don’t be afraid to slow down; sit with the people around you so that you can focus on what God is calling you to do.

What tips would you offer for helping others through change?


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