3 T’s of Transitions
Jim moving to the Stamford branch. Moses dying in the wilderness. Gordon Bombay not coaching the Mighty Ducks of district 5. Your teacher of three years, the savior and messiah dying and then ascending to heaven. What do these all have in common? Though they are not equal in weight, they are each a moment of transition. Transition meaning, what once was is no longer. Things have changed.
As true with anything in our material life, things change. Students graduate or move. Volunteers will eventually decide that it is time for them to step away from serving in the same capacity they have served. Team members will move on to their next job. In any of these instances, you might find yourself amid such change and stress. Depending on the level of relationships, these transitions can be less stressful and others very difficult. With the foreknowledge that transitions happen and are a part of life, how can we be prepared to weather these types of seasons?
There can be a multitude of reasons why those around us are moving from the ministry we serve. The cause for the transition could be the result of personal reasons or part of the natural process like students aging or volunteers experiencing career changes in their lives. Any of these reasons have nothing to do with you as a leader. Still, easier said than done, this can be dangerous territory for our thoughts. The time of transition can bring with it an opportunity for the adversary to work his way into our insecurities. Remember, “Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” Also remember that “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” So, we need to be aware of our thoughts. Lies can creep in easily. Internal conversations like “That the transition is your fault,” “You are a horrible leader,” “There could have been a way to not let this happen, and we missed it.” If there is no direct evidence of these instances as you reflect during or after the transition, then do not allow the adversary to creep in with lies of shame or guilt. As we address the lies, we can then substitute them with truth. First and foremost, that no matter the circumstance of the transition, you are a Child of God (Galatians 4:4-7). Start with that truth and rely on the sword of the spirit to continue to combat the enemy.
Any of the emotions you may feel from the transition will take time to process. It is important not to rush this sort of season. In rushing, we could make rash decisions that may make the situation of transition even more painful and potentially divisive. There will be a period where students will ask about why that volunteer or staff member is not here anymore. Time and time again, you will have to retell the story of why they are no longer with the ministry. And this will take (here come that word again) time. The transition of the volunteer or staff member may be immediate, but the effects of this move will not be immediate. Imagine being in the role of Joshua for a second. You have been helping Moses lead the Nation of Israel. And then the thing that you knew would happen, happens. Moses passes on and triggers a big moment of transition for the nation of Israel, and you (Joshua). Though God had promised to be with Joshua as God was with Moses, the nation would still have to reckon with the fact that Moses is just not there. Joshua was not a bad leader, but it was clear that Moses was not there. This would be a fact that would be with Joshua throughout his leadership. Why? Because a transition takes time. So, let it take time.
Though transitions often feel turbulent, the moment presents a big opportunity to grow in and practice trust. Primarily, trust in God is strengthened. Here is the thing about times of transitions, if we are caught off guard, know that God is not caught off guard. Not only is God not surprised, but God is also still present amid the transition. Remember, the God that we serve is a personal, all-knowing God who loves you. So, if we know that God is with us, not caught off guard, and is for us, then there is but one thing we must do, trust in God.
All of these suggestions are way easier to type than practice. In some instances of transition, we feel like this cannot certainly be what’s best for the ministry or for us as ministers. And it is in those moments that we need to remind ourselves, or have someone we trust to remind us, that we are not God. Only God is able to see the full effect and impact of the transition we are currently experiencing. Our role is to guard our thoughts, give time, and trust.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.