by Bishop Dale Bronner
Solutions General Editor Kelinda Crawford discusses with Bishop Dale Bronner his latest book, Change Your Trajectory.
Kelinda: Bishop Bronner, tell me a little about what inspired you to write Change Your Trajectory.
Bronner: I was inspired to write this book because of the significant amount of change our society has experienced in the last 30 years. Many jobs have moved into obsolescence. Every year about 20 million jobs are eliminated or restructured. The role of women and men has changed in the church, family and the marketplace. Our economy has undergone changes of great instability with corporate mergers, bankruptcies, fluctuating property values, uncontrolled student loan debt, etc. Even our paradigms in our educational systems have proven insufficient in many areas. All of these societal changes, coupled with the rapid and vast changes in technology, inspired me.
Kelinda: Was there a particular change in your life that truly challenged you? What did you take away from the experience?
Bronner: A great change in my personal life that challenged me was the decision to leave the traditional Baptist church, which was my first pastorate, and launch out to plant an interdenominational ministry. Where I was had become a comfort zone for me. In fact, the year before I left the Baptist church, they voluntarily doubled my salary, without my ever-mentioning money to them. It was very difficult for me to leave people whom I loved and whom loved me. It was a familiar and comfortable experience for me since I had grown up in the Baptist denomination. I learned from this experience that good is the enemy of God’s best. I was in a good place. It was comfortable, but it precluded me from trusting God and watching the Holy Spirit develop new gifts in my life. It challenged my faith and strengthened my dependence upon God. The decision for me to leave the familiar and trust God in a new endeavor was the best one I could make. So from this experience, I learned that making the right choice can often feel terribly uncomfortable at the present time, yet God can still be leading that decision. I had always assumed that if it were the right decision, it would feel right and comfortable. But it felt as though I was doing the wrong thing, and I was most uncomfortable.
Kelinda: What do you consider the two most important keys to successful transition?
Bronner: The two most important keys to successful transition are starting early and having a clear definition of your core values that you never want to lose. We must start early by identifying and training younger leaders. They must be brought alongside us to participate in the process. The most important lessons of life are not learned IN a course but ON a course. We must instill the guiding principles and values that are never to be lost. We can change the method but not the message. The message is the essence of WHO we are and WHY we are.
Kelinda: Chapter 13 deals with failure, and you break it down into sections such as “Unrealistic Goals,” “Misappropriated Resources,” “Lack of Skill and Preparation” and others. What is a warning you would share with other pastors and leaders, based upon your many years in ministry?
Bronner: I like to tell pastors and leaders not to be afraid of failure. Failure is an event not a person! We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. Failure helps us to learn and grow. Failure also helps us maintain a posture of humility. It keeps us dependent upon God. But we should minimize our failures by doing our best to be prepared to the best of our ability. The greatest reason for failure is a lack of preparation. Amid our failure we should always trust God and remember that failure isn’t fatal unless we quit. We must be determined to never quit until the One who told us to start tells us to quit.
Kelinda: Tell me about one of your failures and what you learned from it.
Bronner: I made a terrible mistake of hiring someone who looked absolutely perfect for the job on his resume’. He seemed so perfect that I asked him to tell me his greatest weakness. He could not think of a weakness in his life. I thought that was wonderful. But I later realized that he just was neither honest with himself nor me concerning his weaknesses. That should have been a warning sign to me. But I hired him anyway because of his impeccable resume’. Weeks after he started working for me, flaws of his character began to manifest. I soon had to terminate him. I hired him for what he could do; but I fired him because of who he was. From this, I learned that when someone looks too perfect, he/she is hiding something. I failed to investigate his character and people skills because I was so enamored with his abilities. That is a lesson I will never forget.
Kelinda: You talk about becoming a master of change. How does one learn to master the changing of seasons, rather than becoming a victim of them?
Bronner: One must remain flexible and teachable. Awareness is the beginning of change. So one must be aware of change that is constantly taking place. Then ask questions. We don’t get answers unless we ask questions. When we realize that things are changing, one of the first questions we need to ask is, “What do I need to know to successfully navigate this change?” Most failure is based on something that we didn’t know or put into action. Then ask, “Who do I need to be connected to in order to be prepared for the change?” Finding a seasoned person who has transitioned through changes is an invaluable asset. That’s what a legend is—someone who has been successful in more than one generation. They know the art of adapting and remaining relevant without compromising the core of who you are.
Kelinda: What change in your own life would you say you handled masterfully? How did you initially want to handle it, and what prompted you to handle it differently?
Bronner: I believe that I masterfully handled the change of leaving the familiar and comfortable to following the Lord to establish and interdenominational ministry. The real key was simply following the Master. I heard the voice of God and responded to the vision He put in my heart. I initially wanted to ignore the call to launch out and establish an independent work, but God would not let me rest in the comfortable. He began to disturb my comfort for a season of nine months. This was an intense time of seeking God and yielding to His purposes for my life. The two words that continued to ring in my heart over and over were “TRUST” and “OBEY.” I’m glad I did. I discovered that sometimes your most PAINFUL decisions are RIGHT decisions.
Kelinda: For a person who determines, I’m behaving like a victim of change, and I don’t know how to break the cycle, what first steps do you suggest they take to changing their response to the inevitable?
Bronner: If a person is aware that he/she is behaving like a victim of change, he/she is already well on his/her way to breaking the cycle. Awareness is the beginning of change. The next step is to use the frustration with the current circumstances as a motivating fuel for change. Frustration is a precursor for change. Frustration can give us the power to break the cycle of being a victim of change. But it must be coupled with a clear vision of what can be—new possibilities. Then share that vision with people in your inner circle who believe in you and who will encourage you and be a support to help keep you on track with change. As Jesus radically changed the lives of his disciples, He sent them out in pairs of two to change the world. His call upon their lives was exciting, adventurous, dangerous but very fulfilling. But He never sent them alone. After you’ve prayed and gotten directions from God, get with someone who is also a person of purpose and destiny and following God into uncharted waters.
Kelinda: Thank you, Bishop Bronner, for sharing with us today. Your book released September 22nd, is that correct? Where can readers pick up a copy?
Bronner: Yes, the book released September 22nd. Readers can get a copy at.Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, ChangeYourTrajectory.com or wherever fine books are sold.