Transitions never seem to be easy. They are emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining.
I have just now made the transition from being Pastor of Sedgwick Baptist Church in Sedgwick, Arkansas to being the Youth Pastor of Southside Community Church in Paragould, Arkansas. It is a big change. Geographically, I will only be a few miles from my now former ministry post, but it is a completely new area of ministry. Transitions are always complicated, and the bittersweet emotions that come forward are often overwhelming. Leaving is hard, but coming to a new place is so exciting. Here are three simple things that I am trying (imperfectly) to do as I transition:
1. Finish well. It is important to finish up well at any place. God calls us to do everything we do for His glory. Finishing your ministry or job at one place in anger or sloppiness does not display honor and glory to God. We must finish our jobs well during times of transitions. We owe it to our employers, congregations, or coworkers, depending on your situation. We must finish in grace, peace, and kindness, so that the gospel is evident in our words and actions. Do not check out emotionally or spiritually, even if those around you are checking out. Continue in your role, whatever that may be, until your time is up. Be a healthy part of the body of Christ in that place until the transition is over. God has your there until the end for a reason; continue to play your part faithfully.
It is easy to check out. It is easy to finish sloppily, especially when you are filled with dreams and vision of what is ahead. But do not forget about where God has you in the present. Finishing well will provide you with lifelong relationships from your former role that you will be thankful for.
2. Begin well. Set precedents within the first few weeks of your new post that will carry into years of productivity and growth. Do not be so overwhelmed with excitement and bewilderment that you lose sight of doing your job. Give thanks to God everyday for His calling on your life, and remember that He wants you to be productive. Set early, attainable goals for yourself and your ministry so that you will not lose sight of what you should be doing. In a new place, it is easy to be in awe so much that we begin to simply sit and dream, forgetting to “do.” Be active in doing your daily tasks, and set aside time for vision casting. Totally immerse yourself in your new post. Take time to get to know the people you will be working with for the foreseeable future.
3. Be at peace. Everyday during your transition, seek the peace that comes from the gospel. Hopefully, during this time of transition, you have sought the will of the Lord. If you are sure that God has called you into this new post, and you have discerned His will, you should have peace, even if you are unsure of what the future holds. Rest in the comfort of knowing that God has planned out the will of your life, and He is constantly working for your good. That’s not to say that struggles and trials won’t come. They will, trust me. But be at peace knowing that you are right where God wants you, and in that peace, proclaim the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ everyday.
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list. But I pray that these simple words might help you during your time of transition, because they have certainly helped me so far. Transitions are often difficult, but with the help of God and faithful friends, they can be a great time to grow spiritually.
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