Movement: A culture of constant personal and corporate growth and improvement is enabled through effective change management, self-development and a leadership pipeline

Motivation – Dissatisfaction; No Dissatisfaction, No Motivation

MotivationIt is essential that church leaders who initiate change understand the psychological cause-effect relationship between dissatisfaction and motivation.

Simply put, any time there is dissatisfaction a desire for change is the affect; and any time there is a desire for change, it is caused by dissatisfaction.

Without sufficient levels of dissatisfaction, church members will not be motivated to act on the proposed change.

“It was fry or jump, so I jumped!”

The “burning platform” story has become imbedded in the literature of organizational change since its inclusion in Daryl Conner’s books Managing at the Speed of Change and Leading at the Edge of Chaos.

At 9:30 PM on a July evening in 1988, a disastrous explosion and fire occurred on the Piper Alpha oil drilling platform in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland. One hundred and sixty-six crew members and two rescuers lost their lives.

One of the sixty-three crew members who survived was Andy Mochan, a superintendent on the rig.

From the hospital, he told of being awakened by the explosion and alarms. Badly injured, he escaped from his quarters to the platform edge. Beneath him, oil had surfaced and ignited. Twisted steel and other debris littered the surface of the water. Because of the water’s temperature, he knew he could live a maximum of only twenty minutes if not rescued.

Despite all that, Andy jumped fifteen stories from the platform to the water.

When asked why he took that potentially fatal leap, he did not hesitate. He said, “It was either jump or fry.”

He chose possible death over certain death. Andy jumped because he felt he had no choice – the price of staying on the platform was too high.

Conner subsequently used the story as a metaphor for the depth of commitment required for major change.

Conner observed that people don’t have to face a life-threatening situation in order to support fundamental change. What is required is a high level of resolve that is motivated by a deep dissatisfaction with current or future problems or opportunities.

Four Dissatisfactions That Motivate Organizational Change

1. Current Problems: Andy’s plight represents circumstances that epitomize a current problem; when people determine that leaping into the scary unknown is risky and expensive, but less so than the risks and costs they face if they continue with things as they are.

  • Situation: “Our church is in trouble now.”
  • Pain: “If we don’t make dramatic changes immediately our church will die.”

2. Anticipated Problems: Here, existing circumstances don’t reflect an immediate threat, but projected into the future strongly suggests the situation will deteriorate if the current course is maintained.

  • Situation: “Our church is going to be in trouble.”
  • Pain: “The trending suggests if we don’t start making meaningful changes soon, our church’s death spiral is inevitable.”

3. Current Opportunities: Here, existing opportunities are so favorable that people are dissatisfied if they are not pursued immediately.

  • Situation: “If we act immediately we can take advantage of this “God orchestrated opportunity.”
  • Pain: “If we don’t do this we will be disobedient.”

4. Anticipated Opportunities: Here, dissatisfaction is tied to the implications faced if the desired scenario or vision is not achieved in the future.

  • Situation: “If we do this now we could be in a position in the future for remarkable Kingdom impact.”
  • Pain: “If we don’t do this we will look back on it as a lost opportunity to reach people with the gospel.”

The Ultimate Motivation: Kingdom Imperatives

Whether your desire to implement change in your church is about current or anticipated problems or opportunities, the key to success in each case is the membership’s level of dissatisfaction with the way things have been. And, for mature believers there is no greater motivator than Kingdom impact.

Therefore, proposed change must be characterized as a “Kingdom imperative” and that the cost of the status quo is prohibitively high. 

You must move beyond relating to the proposed initiative as only an organizational commitment and start framing it as a promise you have made to God, others and yourself.

When change initiatives are cast in a less intense nature, they are considered only “good ideas” and don’t evoke sufficient dissatisfaction to leave what is for what could be.


Posted on October 14, 2014

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5