Several people warned me that when your “status” changes, you may experience an emotional roller-coaster. This warning has come from those, who like me, have changed roles after being in one role for a long time.
Since moving from “visionary leader” and “senior pastor” to a new role we are calling, “Founding Pastor”, I have experienced a variety of emotions. From being relieved of the pressure and responsibility of being a senior pastor, to…. what now?
Your Brain at Work
The battle for Status
Anyway, in his book, David Rock speaks about how the brain “battles for status”. Rock states that our brain circuitry has two primary responses, reward or threat. In the case of status, an increase in status activates the reward circuitry and makes us feel better about ourselves.
While a perceived “drop” in status can set off the “threat” circuitry. This is why when you speak to your boss, you may feel threatened or intimidated by her. And why, when you meet Kelly Slater (whom I have never met), you will feel rewarded because Kelly is one of your heroes (I hope).
I could feel threatened.
In my case, I could feel threatened by no longer being a “senior pastor” because my status has changed. Or, I could feel rewarded because, although no longer the senior pastor, I now have a new status of being the “Founding Pastor”.
Rock says there are infinite ways of feeling better or worse than others. And the scale of “importance” is different for everyone. Like my illustration about meeting Kelly Slater. For some, you may ask, who is Kelly Slater? And for you, there is no reward circuitry going off in your brain. For me, meeting Kelly Slater makes me a “somebody”!!
Protecting your status
Rock continues and says people pay a lot of attention to the protecting and the building of their status. Let’s face it, who wants to own a Green Credit Card, when the Platinum Credit Card is sent in a special box and delivered to you! Green says you are ok, but Platinum says you are important!
Jesus spoke about status
Jesus’ disciples get caught red handed in the status discussion. Mark 9:33-35, After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
Busted! It would seem that in the Kingdom of God, the status things is turned upside down!
How has my change of status affected me? It’s still early days and I hope that I will remain content in my new role. And that my brain won’t trick me into wanting to be “someone” that I shouldn’t be, just because it may seem more important!
How has status helped or hurt you? Let me know in the comment section below.
For the sake of transparency – if you buy David Rock’s book from the link in this blog, I do earn a small commission. However, all commissions earned go to Grace Family Church.