Nine months ago Victory Baptist Church set on the brink of uncertainly with our Pastor of 21 years leaving and there was a gamut of emotions within me. I feared being leaderless, I had concerns over what a new leader’s ideas might be and what my role would be in the church, I had trepidation for my co-workers in Christ, how would they weather this storm we were about to go through and would the storm be a breeze or would it be an f5 tornado; and who would be left standing when the wind died down? I had faith that I’d be one of them, but also the reality that I’d seen many others in the faith who’d walked away from God in good times, so I knew I wasn’t invincible. Over nine months we’ve gone through the F5 phases of transition: fear, fret, frustration, fatigue and praise God, faith!
So last night as I watched my new Pastor, Steven Carter, announce his resignation to his current church my heart sunk a little for them. Not as much, because their circumstances are far different from ours; he was a co-pastor with his father. Therefore their transition is more the adjustment to the filling of roles that Pastor Steven played and missing his family’s presence in their congregation, which I don’t make light of. Things that are different are not the same… I think someone wrote a book about that once. Oh yeah… my new Pastor’s father! But even though our circumstances are different, there is one thing for certain, the transitions in life are usually only enjoyable at completion. That middle part… it’s rough.
Life transitions… childhood to adult, single to married, full nest to empty next, job to job, location to location… the list is endless. Life is ever changing. And Solomon, the wisest guy of all said it well in Ecclesiastes 7:8 when he said “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
It’s great when we get to the position in life where everyone’s comfortable in their place and content with that stage of life, but when things are a little shaky and uncertain there’s a humility necessary. You tend to rely on one another more and turn to God more frequently than before. I’m speaking tomorrow at a ladies retreat about how “epic failure equals expert.” So can transition. It’s a learning experience. Now that we’re almost to the other side of this phase in our church we can draw from that for future transitions. This was a first for many of us. I’d had only one Pastor since salvation in 1996, that’s about to change!
I’ve seen others not fare so well in the transition. Their f5 was full of fault finding, falsehoods, forsakenness, foolishness and fussin’. And what it left was devastation. Transition success is relational. It’s not leaving one to never return, it’s about moving down the road to the next phase. The road’s still open (unless you burn the bridge). But it’s good to travel back down the road from whence we came and pull from those experiences, and talk to those people to remind us of the lessons we learned in that phase. That’s why transitioning correctly can make you an expert.
Is Victory Baptist Church an expert? We had less than glowing moments, but they were short lived. And because of that, the ties that bind us are even tighter. We depended on each other, a lot! We talked a lot along transitions road, sometimes healthy conversations, sometimes not. But the point of the matter is as we’re nearing the end of our phase, another church is just beginning theirs. Life…. Forever changing. It’s best to stay in the slow lane when transitioning from place to place, enjoy the view…roll the windows down and get some fresh air… stop and ask directions…. Fill your tank up… keep travelin’…. Enjoy the destination when you arrive. But don’t drive your tent pegs too deep!