Over the last ten years, I’ve talked to so many leaders about seasons of transition in their lives. Some people feel like a transition is coming, some people are in the middle of a transition, and some people are still dealing with the impact of a past transition.
I believe that how you handle transitions in your life will determine whether or not you reach your potential. I’ve seen people handle them well and move into the next season of their lives and thrive, but I have also seen people not handle them well and get stuck for years.I believe that how you handle transitions in your life will determine whether or not you reach your potential.Click To Tweet
In his book, “Necessary Endings“, Henry Cloud said, “There are also the endings that are forced upon us, endings we do not choose but that we cannot work through very well either. As a result, we remain in pain or stuck, unable to pursue a new phase in life. These endings include divorce, being fired or laid off, the death of a loved one, the disintegration of a friendship, chronic illness, and so on. We do not choose these endings; they are thrust upon us by people we have trusted or sometimes by truly horrible events in life. If we are not prepared or have had too many losses before, these endings can render us broken, depressed, and floundering, sometimes for years.
I want to help you from losing years of your life to worry and bitterness.
In a season of transition in my life, I went through a 6 month period where I had a mid-life crisis. It was very tough. However, I learned that I was wasting my life trying to live in the past and fearing that I had no future. In the midst of that season, God taught me a lot, and it’s what He taught me that I want to share with you. If we were having coffee and you asked me about going through a hard transition, here is what I would tell you:
Sometimes to get us to move, God has to dry up the Well of our Current Season
When I was in a season of transition, this message by Carter Conlon at Times Square Church had a huge impact on me. He shared this scripture in I Kings 17:5-9: “So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Keith Brook, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land. 8 Then the Lord said to Elijah,9 “Go“.
Carter said, “Sometimes to get us to move, God has to dry up the well. These often aren’t pleasant times, but they are necessary because we’re all campers by nature.”
Seasons of transition can be uncomfortable, but when you look back, you’ll recognize that they were necessary. If you feel like you’re in a season where the well is drying up, pay attention to that. God could be preparing you for a transition. Don’t fear it. Don’t run from it. Embrace it.
Now, you may ask, I feel like the well is drying up in my current season, should I stay or go?
I’d encourage you to pray and be led. Until you know to go, stay. When you know to go, go!
Be Open to Plot Twists in Your Story
My Pastor once told me, “Never Put a Period where God puts a comma.” In other words, never say things like, “I’m going to work here forever.” “I’m going to do this and then that.”
Part of the reason transitions can be so hard for us is because we become too confident and comfortable in our own plans for our lives.
I made this mistake. I was certain that I was going to be a youth pastor and then a senior pastor. So when I started working at a homeless shelter, I had an identity crisis. Little did I know that God wanted me to go into fundraising for a ministry that I knew nothing about. Looking back, I’m so glad God led me into a season of transition.
Plot twists are what make stories exciting. So the next time you’re going through a hard transition, just say, “Plot twist! I wonder what will happen in the next chapter!”
Here is what I know, when you’re not open to transition or you don’t handle the transition well, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. You could be missing out on the adventure of a lifetime!When you're not open to transition or you don't handle the transition well, you have no idea what you're missing out on. You could be missing out on the adventure of a lifetime! Click To Tweet
Do Not Get Bitter about Your Last Season
Whether it was a good transition or bad, it’s easy to get bitter about the last season of your life.
Don’t. It will be a waste of your time and energy.
If you are bitter, then you are not trusting that God has something better for you in the future.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “He will keep you in perfect peace whose eyes are fixed on Him!”If you don’t have peace, you’re not looking to Him.
Determine Why You are in a Season of Transition and Learn the Lessons You Need to Learn
Often times in a hard transition, we can get extremely bitter, especially if we were treated poorly (or if we think we were). Whether or not that is true, you must determine why you are in transition and really look inside and see if you were part of the problem.
This is where I see a ton of people miss it. They point the finger at others, but they never determine if they were part of the problem! Self-awareness is everything.
I’d encourage you to ask those in the last season of your life what you can do to grow and develop. Oftentimes, we have blind spots we don’t even know about and if we don’t learn to deal with them, we will carry them into the next season of our lives.
Ask God and others to show you what things you need to be working on so you can be more effective in the next season of your life.Ask God and others to show you what things you need to be working on so you can be more effective in the next season of your life.Click To Tweet
Henry Cloud said, “When we fail to end things well, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that keep us from moving on.”
If you don’t learn the lessons you need to in the season you’re in now, you’ll have to learn them again in the next one! Trust me!If you don't learn the lessons you need to in the season you're in now, you'll have to learn them again in the next one!Click To Tweet
In Seasons of Transition, You Find the Unhealthy Places You Were Finding Your Value
I’ve shared this often, but when I’ve had transitions in my life, I’ve found that I was finding way too much value in where I was and what I was doing.
As a result, when I was no longer where I was or doing what I was doing, I had an identity crisis because my worth and value were not found in the right place.
This is very dangerous. When you find your identity in anything you can lose, if you lose it, you’re in danger of having a crisis.
The reality is that the only thing you can find your identity in that you’ll never lose is your identity in God.When you find your identity in anything you can lose, if you lose it, you’re in danger of having a crisis.Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, when people have an identity crisis, they tend to isolate themselves and run to things they shouldn’t run to in order to numb the pain. Please don’t do that. Find a community of people you can do life with. Get connected with a good Church and learn to find your value in God.
This is also a good time to evaluate where you are finding your identity. Look at every area of your life. Would you be ok if it all went away? If not, you’re finding your identity in things you could lose.
Success is not a Job, Success is Who You Are, Where You Are
I remember thinking that if I wasn’t on staff with a church, then I was not in ministry and could not be used by God.
That kind of thinking really hurt me in my season of transition. Thankfully, a mentor said this statement to me and it changed my life: “Ministry is not a job. Ministry is who you are, where you are.”
For those not in ministry, substitute the word ministry with success.
Success is not a job, it’s who you are, where you are.Success is not a job, it's who you are, where you are.Click To Tweet
The reality is, you’re not successful or living a life of significance because of where you work. You’re successful simply because of who you are. Learn to define success correctly.
I love John Wooden’s definition: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” -John WoodenClick To Tweet
If God’s Called You to do Something, He’s the Only One that Can take that Away
In my transition, I thought all of my opportunities to be used by God or to do something significant with my life were over. I remember thinking that all of my opportunities in life were a result of where I was in the past and the people I was connected to in the last season of my life.
The opposite happened, I actually had more opportunities open up for me after my transition was over.
Your life is not over just because the last season of your life is.Your life is not over just because the last season of your life is. Click To Tweet
God is Bigger than the Last Season of Your Life
When I was going through a 6-month identity crisis, my father-in-law kept telling me over and over again, “Doug, God is bigger than the last season of your life.”
I didn’t believe him the first hundred times he told me that, but over time I learned that he was right. I wish I would have believed him the first time, I would have saved a lot of wasted time and energy.
God is bigger than that last season of your life!God is bigger than the last season of your life.Click To Tweet
Be Grateful for the Last Season of Your Life
Regardless of whether or not you had a good transition or a bad transition, be grateful for your last season. You were there for a season and you were there for a reason. Be grateful for the lessons you learned, the people God surrounded you with, and the impact you were able to make.
I remember one of my last days on staff at the organization I was a part of, a dad put his arm around me, pointed to all the students in the audience, and said, “See all these kids, you’re leaving your thumbprint on all of their lives. Everywhere they go, you’ll have had a part in their journey. Now go and do that everywhere you go.”
Recognize that God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than You want to get where You want to Go
Light of Life wasn’t even on my radar when I was in a season of transition (10 years ago). I was looking for a job in business. In fact, I had a job lined up that I was going to start in a couple of weeks.
Then, out of nowhere, I got a call asking me to come and interview at Light of Life. I interviewed, got the job, and the rest is history. I did absolutely nothing to make that happen. God had a better plan for my life than I did.
I find great comfort in the fact that God cares more about where I end up than I do.
Trust Him that if you’ll put Him first, He’ll get you exactly where you need to go!
Soon, It will Be Better Than It’s Ever Been
‘“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.’ -Isaiah 43:18-19
I remember listening to a sermon and the Pastor saying, “Recently, people have been coming to ask you how you’re doing and you can’t even look them in the eye you’re in such a bad place. However, in not many days, people will come to you and ask you how you are doing and you’ll look back and them with a gleam in your eye and say, “It’s better than it’s ever been! Better than it’s ever been! Even at its best, it wasn’t this good!”
For me, that was a word from God. I got a vision that if I’ll be faithful and continue to pursue God, in time, life would better than it’s ever been. It’s been ten years and I can clearly say, it’s better than it’s ever been!
In not many days, you’ll be able to say the same thing.
I hope this post encourages you whether you are in a season of transition or if you feel like you’re about to be in a season of transition.
Have you experienced seasons of transition? What did you learn?