How to Face Disruptive Change and Thrive

Our response to change, challenge, or turmoil reveals more about us than it says about circumstances. 

The arrival of Jesus felt like disruptive threat to some and opportunity to others. The same event invites wildly diverse responses.



Shepherds heard of the birth of Jesus and responded with curiosity and enthusiasm. It was opportunity.

Luke, the gospel historian, records that the shepherds rushed to see what was going on in Bethlehem.  (Luke 2:15-16 NLT)


Political leaders heard of the birth of Jesus and viewed it as threat. They were troubled, aggressive, and deceptive. (The former tax collector for the Roman government, Matthew, records the leader’s response to the arrival of Jesus in Matthew chapter 2.)

The shepherds were curious, enthusiastic, and open. Political insiders were curious, threatened, and closed.


People on the fringes – sheepherders – saw opportunity when they heard about the arrival of Jesus. Insiders – leaders with position and status – felt threat.

Successful leaders navigate tensions between protecting the status quo and exploring opportunities. During turmoil or innovation, watch for protectionism, arrogance, fear, and agenda driven curiosity.

7 leadership observations:

  1. It’s easy to be open when you have little to lose.
  2. Curiosity may be about exploring opportunity or preventing change. Some questions are designed to block progress, others to encourage it. Successful leaders ask forward-facing questions.
  3. Humility tends to openness and exploration.
  4. Arrogance tends to deception, aggression, and protecting the status quo.
  5. Curiosity ignites energy and inspires action.
  6. One person’s threat is another’s opportunity.
  7. Those who embrace innovation tend to go further than those who resist it.

How might leaders navigate tensions between stability and disruption?