Looking back on Transitions

Top 10 Learnings from my “New Beginnings”

Breaking up may be hard to do, but starting over in ministry can be scary.  No one enjoys change and often our worst mistakes happen in the stress of transitions.  When I transitioned to a new ministry I felt the charge to make something happen… and quickly.  This led to my biggest mistakes in ministry as well as unnecessary stress.  As I continue to transition into new roles in ministry – I want to look back, learn from earlier my mistakes and seek a new path to take.  Perhaps you too will be wiser if you can learn from my mistakes.  I list here my Top 10 learnings from my "New Beginnings" in “David Letterman” countdown style… may you be transition well and prosper!

10.   The view out of my office window soothes the stress I feel

New beginnings can be stressful, but God’s creation is amazing.   It is very important to find activities that renew and refresh in the midst of the journey.

9.     People are more important than projects

Often when we begin something new there are multiple things that have to happen at once!  The administrative avalanche can be “deadly” to the relationships that need to be nourished.  Don’t allow the ease of projects take you away from the sometimes-difficult process of developing people.

8.     People need more time than “my timeline” allows

The biggest mistake I made was not giving people the time they each deserved.  In the exciting rush of beginning this new ministry, I short-changed what people truly needed from me – my undivided attention.

7.     Change is hard on everybody – even on those who desire it

Don’t underestimate how difficult, stressful, and sad change can be.  Change involves leaving something behind to take hold of the new.  The loss causes grief; don’t neglect to process the feelings that may lurk under the surface.  Even those people who want change to happen will experience hard times.

6.     New beginnings allow God to surprise you – look for God’s surprises

Sometimes when you are comfortable in your situation, you stop depending upon God to do His miracles – you have learned how to do the “routines”.  New beginnings allow for lots of surprises.  New beginnings strip away our independence to reveal a fresh dependence upon God.  Surprise, surprise … God has been working the whole time.  The fun of new beginnings is to see what God will do next!

5.     New beginnings are a group project – not yours alone

Sometimes the point leader of change can feel like the weight of the change is on his or her shoulders alone.  Don’t forget the team… it is the people around you, that you are developing, that will insure the new beginning is of lasting significance.  And if you have a family, remember they had to come along for the journey as well.  Even if you didn’t uproot them, the impact of the new beginning will impact their lives too!

4.     Value the Past just as much as you celebrate the Future

Often times, new beginnings are all about that which is new!  This may overshadow all the great moments of the past.  Don’t diminish the highlights of the past.  Don’t squash the values of the past but rather incorporate them in every shape possible in the plans of the new beginning.

3.     First impressions are too valuable to take lightly

First impressions are powerful and memorable.  They are hard to overcome, therefore, carefully orchestrate your first moments in your new beginning to allow you to make the most of your first “meetings and greetings” in the new beginning.  People especially need more time during the first impression to make sure they understand the real you.

2.     Listening is the most important skill needed in a new beginning

Stephen Covey said, “seek first to understand then be understood”!  That is huge!  Listening to what is said and what is not said is very important.  Listening takes time and is difficult work.  The fruit of listening is the trust and influence people give us.

1.     The process is just as important as the product therefore enjoy the journey every step of the way

I keep telling myself, “enjoy the moment!”  Don’t focus just on what the new beginning will be one day; what the new beginning is right now is the most important thing.  Because you will never “be” in the future if right “now” is faulty and overlooked.   If you don’t enjoy the journey, why take on the new beginning in the first place?