Transition is tough, and while it’s a given when it comes to leadership, it’s never easy when it comes around. In my life, my greatest transitions have happened as I’ve followed the call of God to serve at another church and as God called my wife and I to adopt. When these transitions happen everything changes. What’s key is understanding that with transition comes a lot of new: new balance, new contexts, and new paradigms.
All that said, over the course of this transition I learned stuff, a LOT of stuff. Stuff like:
- The call of God isn’t always convenient, easy, or a golden path crammed with angels singing the Hallelujah chorus…but it’s still the call of God.
- People who you never thought would care will speak life into your transition while others you expected to help you through the process simply don’t show up.
- Tomorrow will rarely ever look like today and it definitely doesn’t look like yesterday.
- Transition makes you question things like your validity, your next steps, your faith, and your ability to lead.
- You wonder if your greatest days are behind you.
- You begin to feel that God is punishing you, or moving you away because you’re in the way, or even that He is tired of you.
Now at the risk of coming off sounding like a teenager with too much time and teen angst, I am happy to say that my family is now rooted in a city we love, serving in a church we love more, loving a little girl from China in more ways than we could have ever imagined. And even though transition is difficult, the arrival is sweet. It brings perspective as we realized that the anchors God told us to drop into the midst of the storm of our transition were there to keep us focused on Jesus and on His call in our lives.
Here are those 3 anchors that any person going through transition should drop:
- Speak What You Know To Be True
It’s easy to doubt in the darkness what God has told you in the light. We all know that when doubt creeps in, fear creeps in and if fear is present, love and strength is not. It’s in those times of darkness and doubt that you need to call to memory the promises of God. Remember the words He spoke to you at the beginning of your transition and what He has promised you. Audibly speak them out so you can hear yourself say it, because if you can say it, then you can hear it, and then you can believe it. And never forget that, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1.20, that, “All the promises of God find their YES in him.”
- God Will Never Take You Where He Doesn’t Plan to Sustain You
I promise. Time and time again, throughout Scripture, we see the character of God shine through as He makes a way for His people. Isaiah 43.2 puts it like this, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” Notice that it doesn’t say “IF you walk through the fire,” it says, “WHEN you walk through the fire.” Again, this doesn’t mean that you won’t walk through some pretty rough terrain, but it does mean that He will see you through it.
- You Are Moved So That You Will Grow
One of the most invaluable things I learned in the midst of this transition is that sometimes our current context keeps us from claiming the next mountain top. There’s comfort in the familiar and the pain of change is sometimes too great. But the reality is this: God often will bring transition into your life to grow you through something you normally wouldn’t grow through so He can answer that prayer you prayed long ago. When you ask God to grow you, He is faithful to do so, even when it’s not convenient to us and He will often use change to get the job done. 2 Timothy 2.13 speaks to this in saying that, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
So to those of you who are about to enter a transition in your life or are in the midst of one, I encourage you, ANCHOR DOWN and anchor deep. God is faithful and He knows the plans He has for you.
Terry Parkman is the Lead Student Ministries Pastor of River Valley Youth in Minneapolis, MN, a student-driven movement that is defined by a generation of influencers who are passionate about Jesus Christ and what He calls this generation to accomplish for the Kingdom.