According to the dictionary I have at home “transition” means, “passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another” and “a movement, development or evolution from one form, stage or style to another.”
I would alter this a bit for a definition, through a compilation of these definitions to say, “a passage to a stage brought about by a movement and development from one form to another.” This is where I find myself in life. I am about to move from one “stage” to another and this has been brought about by a strong sense of my development and through a clear leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am moving from one form (lead pastor of a Central Community Church) to another form (full-time Executive Director of Highway City Community Development).
As someone who has had the privilege and honor of being allowed to start a new church which was focused on Christ through holistic ministry, cross-cultural diversity (age, gender, race, socio-economics), and evangelism (living and speaking the life Christ) I am now being allowed to enter into a new stage of that ministry.
Highway City Community Development, while “legally” a separate entity from Central Community Church, is spiritually and relationally intertwined. Both organizations are focused on the same geographical areas (Highway City and the Central Unified School District) and function with the same ministry philosophy (a strong holistic theology and understanding of a theology of place). Yet, as one being a church and the other a 501 (c) 3 Community Benefit Organization, they have different functions and needs when it comes to leadership. This is where my understanding of my “development” has become so much clearer.
Maybe it is because of passing the half century mark in age, or more likely a better theological understanding that God created me with specific gifts and abilities, but I have come to understand, quite clearly, what I can provide and what I can’t provide to both entities. What Central Community Church needs for its healthy future is different from what I am created, wired, and trained to do. What Highway City Community Development appears to needs is very much in line with those same issues. My faith tells me that the next stage should be entered with full enthusiasm despite the sadness that comes with changing the look of many relationships.
I think this is what keeps most people from making the God directed transitions in life. We fear the change that comes to our relationships. All of our relationships are going to change. Our relationships with God (what if I heard wrong or I can’t receive the same financial support?); our relationships with people (the leadership dynamic changes, the people’s perspective have to be altered); and our relationships with family (routines will be changed, availability may be altered, and access to material “givens” may change due to possible changes in income). These are all VERY significant issues which cannot be dismissed. But, if we truly believe that God is in control, they are issues which can be addressed. And, by doing so, each of the stated relationships can actually become deeper, more vital, and more supportive as the community moves into the transition. Ultimately, this is how transition is to be understood.
We are not created to be alone, nor can we ever believe that our “personal issues” aren’t part of what affects the whole community. An individual who is moving through a transition is also part of community which also must move through the transition. It is much more profound when the individual is the designated “leader” of the particular communities in which they live out their lives.
This is the point of my “new” journey which has been the hardest to wrestle with and to insure I remain gentle, but resolute in what I believe God is leading me (and my communities) into. It is humbling to realize (finally?) that I make a difference in people’s lives. In fact, humbling, doesn’t seem to come close to what I am trying to communicate. I made such a mess of my life before meeting Christ. I hurt people deeply. Even worse than that though, was that I didn’t even care how others might be affected. I made decisions solely on how I felt and what I would get (gain) from those decisions. I am so grateful that Christ NEVER gives up on any of us. If you don’t know Christ, or reject Him at this very minute, I want you to know that He hasn’t rejected you. He is still reaching out to you through your circumstances and various people around you. Just keep that in mind. And now, through the grace and mercy of God, I am now allowed to influence people to the God who created me; the God who waited for me; the God who would die for me so that my life would bring honor to Him.
This blog entry is dedicated to those who are near in vicinity and those who have made the effort to communicate their love for me from afar. Those who are “afar”; Catherine, Rheanna, Sarah, Jesse, Mike, Katie, Jen, Ben, Darin and so many others who have let me know I made a difference. That is hard to grasp, yet so encouraging toward making the decision to be obedient in this new transition. Those in close proximity are too numerous to count and list and I pray that this transition will be seen as the opportunity from God to move you even closer to Him. You are the main instruments He has used to help me to this next stage of ministry.
So, a new adventure is underway. Metaphorically, we are packing our bags and readying ourselves for what lies ahead. The direction seems clear, but the steps certainly are not. What I do know is this: My God has a sacrificial love for me, and my friends will be moving along in the journey with me because this too is their journey. It is also their adventure. We all have the opportunity to become more like what God has planned for us to become. I pray each of you read this will also embrace the journey. God’s blessing on all of you.