I’m pulling this post from the archives because I was reading Matthew 9:16 about putting new wine into old wineskins or sewing un-shrunk cloth on an old garment. In Biblical days wine was kept in a leather bag or “skin,” because it could stretch as the wine aged. But once it got old, the bag locked into it’s shape and lost the ability to stretch.
The concept is particularly important when it comes to leadership.
A few years ago I was asked to consult with a major ministry that had been on the national scene for a long time. Now, a new leader wanted to bring it up to date – make it more contemporary, fresh, and relevant. But the first thing I noticed was his leadership team. The truth is it wasn’t his team – it was the previous leader’s team. These men and women had been the ministry leaders for the last 30 years. All they knew was how to do things the old way. And I predicted they would fight to the death to keep the status quo.
Guess what? I was right.
I strongly encouraged him to bring in his own new team, but he refused. He considered them long-time, loyal employees. So within a few months I left because change was never going to happen. Sure enough, the old guard dug in and refused to make any changes at all. In fact I was surprised at how intransigent they became. Debt piled up, and it simply got worse.
Don’t put new wine into old wineskins. New thinking isn’t enough. You need a new team to implement new ideas. It’s no surprise that a new president brings a new team into the White House, or a new coach brings his own staff to a new sports team.
Be very careful trying to make your ideas happen with somebody else’s team. Because in most cases, the old team can’t stretch their thinking any better than old wineskins can adjust to new wine.
Have you experienced the struggle between an old team and a new leader?