Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

Do you believe people can fundamentally change?

Last week at a Leadership Roundtable Group I was asked that question. A fundamental change means a change in character, values, or behavioral patterns. Do you believe humans are capable of this?

I do, because all of those things are learned. And everything that is learned can be unlearned. If supported appropriately, people can become what God initially created them to be — compassionate servant leaders.

For most people, becoming a servant leader requires some sort of fundamental change. A transformation is often necessary.

Fundamental change — transformation — doesn’t happen easily. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that once you get the process of change started, it takes on a life of its own. As people learn to serve and accept others’ service, they can’t help but be changed for the better. As they experience the benefits of change, they crave more of it because it satisfies their inner being and their purpose. Servant cultures are hard to get started but quickly become self-reinforcing.

So, how do you kick start the transformation process? How do you take people who aren’t natural servant leaders (most of us) and shift them into the servant mindset?

Here are three ways you can support people to change for the better:

  1. Show people what they’re missing out on.

To inspire positive change in others, you’ve got to model the benefits they will experience on the other side of change. How do you do this?

Serve, and take delight in it.

Serve, and reveal the inner peace and satisfaction you experience.

Serve, and smile! Let people see how your energy increases. Let them feel the warmth that you feel through serving.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

To bring out the best in others, allow yourself to truly, visibly enjoy bringing out the best in yourself.

  1. Catch people doing things right.

The best motivator for behavioral change is positive reinforcement. The worst is nitpicking and faultfinding.

Consider the people on your team whose behavior you’d like to see improve. How much time and effort do you invest in pointing out their strengths and successes to them?

Whatever your answer, double that investment. Triple it. Make a calendar reminder if you need to, to prompt you to seek out the things poor performers are doing right. People know when they aren’t fitting in, either because of their performance or personality. They can feel that separation. Feelings of exclusion typically only drive more undesirable behaviors.

Conversely, feeling appreciated and accepted inspire people to do more of the things that elicit acceptance from others. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Ask yourself, which person on your team would benefit the most from being caught doing something right today?

  1. Openly acknowledge your own shortcomings.

You have ways that you could change for the better, too. We all do. We all have disruptive habits that undermine our own and others’ potential.

Seek feedback about the areas in which you fall short. Be open and honest about the inner work you have in front of you. Are you making progress? Have you hit a plateau? Talk about these things, so that the people on your team are reminded to prioritize and be transparent about their own personal “change initiatives.”

When the people on your team have awareness of one another’s inner struggles, they can provide more strategic and meaningful support.

You can create a culture in which ‘these’ authentic, transformational conversations take place, regularly.

What step can you take today?


And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Hebrews 13:16