When Plans Change

Photo courtesy of Dennis Sitarevich

Photo courtesy of Dennis Sitarevich

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. It’s not uncommon for plans to change. Sometimes, a project we’ve put a lot of time an energy into planning gets cut. Or the person we thought we were going to hire takes another job; or the budget gets cut and you can’t do it. There are many such situations we’ll likely face as technical leaders. It happens to all of us, and it happened to me a few weeks ago.

Back in July, I wrote about the new tech booth we were planning on building. It was to be beautiful; two station deep and two stations wide, with plenty of interconnectivity, tie lines and lovely new furniture. And it would be on the floor of the room—where the people sit. What a concept. It was a great plan. Until it wasn’t. 

The day the project was to begin, it was put on hold indefinitely. There were multiple reasons for this, which I won’t go into here. However, it hit me broadside and threw us all for a loop for a bit. I decided—probably wisely—not to write about it until now, after I’ve had some time to process. As I’ve talked it through with several people I trust to tell me the truth, I have walked away from that experience with some insights that may be helpful when this happens to you.

It’s OK To Feel Hurt

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty upset when the project was scrubbed. And I think that’s a perfectly acceptable initial response. I had spent a good 100 hours on the design, thinking through everything I could think of, not only in the physical construction, but in how it would be wired and connected. I had invested significant, and I mean significant amounts of mental and emotional energy into the project. And when it was shut down, it hurt. But notice I said “initial response.” 

While it is OK for it to hurt for a while, we need to work through the offense and move forward. If we stay offended and hurt, our work, health and family will suffer. We simply can’t stay mad about our project being cut. Get upset, talk it through, process with people you trust, then forgive and move on. It’s the only way you’ll be able to stay in this for the long haul—because believe me, it will happen again. 

So how do we move past this? I think a big part of it is in how we look at things.

See The Big Picture

In this case, it was clear the project had to be put on hold. In light of some other plans that are being developed, it made no sense to move forward with a new tech booth before that other stuff is worked out. So while I hated to see my project shelved, it was the best decision for the church.

And that’s one thing that we always have to keep in mind; what is the best decision for the entire church, not just our ministry, department or personal preference. The old saw, “You can’t always get what you want,” is true in ministry as much as it is anywhere. We have to maintain the ability to step back from the hurt, from the disappointment and see how things fit into the bigger picture.

Even if we can’t see it now, we have to trust God to weave it all together for good. When I was downsized a little over four years ago, I knew it was the best thing for the church, even if I couldn’t see how it would be good for me. A few months later, I was moving to the best weather in the country and near to one of my best friends. And we’ve had a great time these last four years! 

But that’s not all. Sometimes, if we look, there is a hidden silver lining in the disappointment. 

Look For The Upside

Though we may have to look from another angle to see it, there is often an upside. As I wrote last time, I got to take a vacation in the summer for the first time in a long time. Since I had scheduled my whole August around building a tech booth, when that stopped, why look at all those free dates on the calendar! I have the vacation time, so off I went. 

In 2009, being downsized lead to a great break in my routine; I was able to take almost two months off to rest, look for a new job and move. I also ended up here, which has provided me with some great opportunities. And I no longer see −10° on the thermometer in January…

When things don’t go the way you planned, remember, it’s OK to be upset, but then we have to move on. See the big picture and look for the upside. And trust fully in God; none of this is a surprise to Him. What does he have waiting for you now? It could be even better than you dreamed. 

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