Triumphing in the Face of Pushback

Triumphing in the Face of Pushback

September 18, 2013 by

With hopes of being the first woman to swim the 21 miles across the English Channel, Gertrude Ederle dove in and began the chilly swim toward England.  The odds of completing the swim were against her. Only five men had ever made it.

Swimming the English Channel is the ultimate long distance challenge. Sea conditions change rapidly. High winds give rise to six-foot waves and frigid saltwater drains energy. Jellyfish are a constant threat.  Every stroke comes with the likelihood of pushback.

Gertrude knew pushback. She had failed once before. But on August 16, 1926, a British immigration officer stood on the shore awaiting the 20-year-old swimmer. He was first to greet the waterlogged girl when she walked up the beach with a world record time.

For me, imagining a swim of 21 miles pushes me over the edge. I barely completed five minutes floating on my back during boot camp! But Gertrude’s tenacity helped me understand how to look at pushback and get beyond it successfully.

Pushback May Lead Us to Adjust Course
Gertrude’s goal was to swim a straight line. But it’s common to swim an “S” path in the English Channel. Depending on how strong the tide is, swimmers must often adjust course.

We too will have to alter course when the tide is against us. When currents rise and concerns get raised, you’re facing pushback. Handling it well is crucial.

Have you tried to bring social media to your church? Wow, can that ever lead to pushback! After doing a lot of research, we launched a Facebook page and began scheduling updates. Our goal was to create conversations beyond the Sunday worship by initiating it where people were already gathering.

Soon after we started our energy quickly moved toward holding back the flood of requests from staff and volunteers who wanted to broadcast their events. Our resistance was met with people taking it on themselves to start their own Facebook pages. Not good! In the end we altered our course and helped some of the larger ministries start their own Facebook group. We also shared our list of best practices to help them engage the group successfully. We came to realize that pushback doesn’t mean we give up our position entirely or that we failed. We altered our course, but the destination remained.

Pushback May Require a Change of Pace
Gertrude set a pace and delivered each stroke, intent on her destination. She knew where she was going and intended to arrive no matter how long it took. Every stroke mattered. Every stroke demanded willingness to change as conditions changed.

When pushback comes, and it will, we must be ready to adjust pace. Push too hard against the resistance and you’ll give out. I have realized that finding the right pace is rarely easy, but it can be done.

Several years back we had three different websites for our three campuses. You would never know by our websites that the three locations were part of one church. Even some of our ministries had their own websites. We believed it was best to consolidate all of the sites, but literally, none of the campus staff liked the idea. The pushback led to many conversations, and ultimately, we had to adjust our pace. I had hoped to launch within three to four months. I never dreamed it would take nearly a year to see the website go live. Through that process, I came to accept that adjusting our pace allows us to make every stroke count even though it takes us longer to get there.

You Can Triumph Over Pushback
Whether you serve a church of 200 or 2,000, we all face significant challenges as we work toward strengthening communication clarity. We’ve stepped into the water, and it’s our responsibility to help keep the church moving forward. Your church needs your help to navigate pushback successfully. This may require altering course or even adjusting the pace. But we must never allow pushback to overwhelm us. Gertrude didn’t give up, give out or go down.  She triumphed over pushback one stroke at a time, and you can too.

Post By:

Gerry True

Gerry True serves as the communication arts pastor at Oak Hills Church where he currently leads four teams of artists who use their creativity in communication, production, worship and technical arts. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his beautiful wife Karen and two delightful leaders-in-the-making kids, and you can follow him on Twitter at @GerryTrue.
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