Transitions in Life and Ministry: Opportunity or Obstacle?
The past several months brought the reality of transition back into focus for me. Ten years ago, I began a long, even difficult time of transition—in life and ministry.
Living on the other side of the world, life seemed more simple. It was often busy overseeing two full-time ministries, with leadership involvement in our local home church.
It was a full life with plenty of challenges, yet it was simple. My purpose in life was clear.
A major change in life
Life on this side of the earth (FL) was full of busyness, but my purpose was not so clear. Some things were quite clear. We moved back to the US to care for my parents.
But I went from a person of importance in ministry to near anonymity. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t doing what I was gifted and called to do by God, or so it seemed. I also wasn’t in charge of any ministry except at a distance.
After about a year or so, I found a place to serve in a local church body. Finally, I was able to employ some of my ministry gifts, which was good. But our first year back was very difficult. At least three different full-time ministry opportunities evaporated.
Learning a new thing
After a few more years, I began to write and eventually self-published a book. This was something I wanted to do for many years, but it also was a great challenge. I found out that writing is a lot different from speaking.
I learned a new craft and it was a sharp learning curve for me. I also went out to search for a regular job to pay the bills, which also was a challenge. I found out there wasn’t a big market for a former church planter and missionary like myself.
Learning a new way
Presently, it seems I’m in a new time of transition. I’m learning a new way of putting to work the gifts and calling of God. It’s a new phase of walking by faith.
Right now, I’m enjoying it. I like the challenge and have a renewed sense of vision. I work at keeping expectations realistic, which includes managing my time and energy in a different way.
The nature of transitions
This seems to be the nature of transitions. They are a time full of challenges and change. Things are different, unfamiliar, and sometimes bewildering.
Handling transition well is both simple and complex. A big part of doing it well depends on our attitude and outlook. Do we see transition as an opportunity or obstacle?
A balancing act
Over the past several months, I’ve been helping others navigate transitions. My role requires an objective view of things, while drawing on past experience. It’s kind of a balancing act. I can’t just fall back on how I’ve done things before, but I still draw from my experience.
I’m learning that a good mentor or coach needs to learn how to adapt what they know from experience and apply it in different ways, different situations, and with different people.
We’re all different. We have different gifts and skills and experience. And yet, many things are similar. Management is management in various fields of work or ministry. People are people, work is work, and God is ever faithful.
Navigating transitions in life and ministry requires a genuine walk of faith, if we want to do it well.
What are some of the life or ministry transitions you’ve gone through?
How have you navigated them so far?
What would you do differently or wished you’d known going into a transition?