When my son was two he was given a bike for Christmas. It's a red and white strider bike that was designed to look like a mountain bike. It's pretty sweet.
He loves his strider. He calls it his Rocket Bike because it makes him go "just so, so fast!"
When he first got it, we dropped the seat as low as it could go and he could barely touch his toes as he hoisted himself up on that seat. But when he got up there, it meant freedom and he wasn't turning back.
Over the years, our son has grown, and so have his strider skills. This past spring he could balance and ride down a hill, he could push himself along, and he could do it all fast! I couldn't keep up to him walking anymore, he loved every moment of it.
But as summer passed he grew. He grew, and his Rocket Bike did not. Sure we moved the seat up higher, but it can only go so high. And he can only go so fast on his Rocket Bike. If he wants to go faster, he's going to have to trade in his beloved Rocket Bike for a pedal bike.
We attempted this transition a few times this summer. He'd hop on the pedal bike we had for him to try, he'd figure out the pedals and push back and forth on the sidewalk in our backyard. But each time he tried the new bike, he'd eventually give up and go back to his rocket bike.
He was just learning the pedals, so he couldn't go that fast. The bike sat a little higher, so he felt a little more precarious. He is deeply attached to his Rocket Bike, so he missed it after a while.
He could go faster if he made the change and rode a pedal bike, but he'd rather stay at the speed he's at on his familiar Rocket Bike.
This is the same challenge leaders will face their whole lives. We want to go fast, but we don't want to get off our Rocket Bikes.
In order to grow your organization, you have got to be willing to make changes for the sake of growth.
We all have dreams of growth for our organizations. I've never met someone in leadership who when asked what their dreams for their organization responded with "You know, I'm good with where we're at." And especially in the world of the Church, if we're ever satisfied with the growth of our Churches we had better hope it's because Jesus has already returned.
But the way you lead your Church to it's current size, isn't the way you will lead it to the next. The way you grew your business to where it is right now, isn't the way you will lead it into continued the growth. What got you here, won't get you there.
There are a lot of people who are smarter than I am that can help you step through, and make the changes you need in order to continue to grow. (Church leaders, read this article from Tim Keller.) But you need to take a step of courage into change.
The trick is that most of us don't like to change. We usually like things the way they are.
When we're first learning a new skill we can't do the same task with the new method as quickly. So we get frustrated and give up trying to learn that new skill because we're convinced it's just going to hinder us. We go back to our Rocket Bike.
When we try to implement change it leaves us vulnerable, especially those of us who are people-pleasers. We worry that we're going to hurt feelings, or that people will stop liking us because of the change. Change initially makes us feel like we're in a precarious situation. So we go back to our Rocket Bike.
And if we're really honest, we're attached to the methods and skills that got us where we are. Trusted advisors helped us craft our method. We've hit our groove with it, we love our traditions. We're attached to the way we do things. So we go back to our Rocket Bike.
If you want to continue to grow, eventually, you're going to have to leave the Rocket Bike behind. It's been a faithful steed. It's served you well until this point, but now it's time to let it go.
And I don't mean that you abandon the mission. Your end goal doesn't need to change in and of itself. But in order to fully achieve them you need to change how you do things. You need to change your methods. You don't need to change your mission.
What does that look like for you? For me, it's been a mindset shift from asking "How do I keep this going?" to asking "What's next?" I believe we need to lead towards growth, we need to constantly be asking ourselves and the Holy Spirit "What's next?"
I've found that the moments where I feel comfortable and content with my leadership are the moments where I start to plateau. And in many organizations, it's a moment where they begin the journey of decline and death. We need to constantly be asking what the next step forward is or soon we'll find ourselves stuck, stagnant, and dying.
In order to grow your business, in order to serve your Church, in order to pursue Jesus to a deeper intimacy, you've got to get off your Rocket Bike, and hop on a pedal bike. What got you here, won't get you there.
It will feel weird. It will be uncomfortable. But it will take you to new places, and you will go faster than you ever have before.
What is your Rocket Bike? It's time to let it go.