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6 Rules of Transition, 1-3

Climb to Camp Muir
2013 was a year of transition for me. I retired in June from local church ministry as Senior Pastor of Legacy Church, Plano, TX after 26  years of service with them. That same month I begin to serve with B. H. Carroll Theological Institute as Vice President for Advancement and then in October of this year I was elected to serve as their President. My climb of Mt. Rainier in August was easier than those changes in many ways.

Transitions are part of life, and how we navigate them is the key to our success and our ability to stay faithful to God's call on our lives. Someone once said, "Change is easy. It's the transitions that will kill you." God is a God of change. God creates it and allows it to happen in our lives. As a servant leader who serves a group of people who are on mission with God, transitioning to adapt and embrace those changes is the bridge to how well you move forward together.

Here are six rules of transition I have learned through the years. (I will cover three in this blog.) Apply them to your life and ministry as you begin a new year of ministry and work.
  1. Transition begins with a call of God to change what you are currently doing in order to accomplish what he has called you to do. The choice to begin transitioning from where you are to where you know God wants you and your group to be begins with God's leadership in your life and the lives of those you lead. Personal ambition and ego building are not the motives to initiate a season of transition. God will reveal to you and to those with whom you serve the future that he desires for you. Vision precedes change. Transition is the bridge from where you are now to the vision God has revealed.
  2. Transition must be toward accomplishing God's mission call, not toward the preferences of a certain style or organizational model. When God reveals his vision for us, we too often turn to those models and methods we sense will help us realize it. Don't copy what God is doing in another person or group's life to move toward God's future. Too many leaders and churches fail because they seek to do what others have done. Any transitional changes must be toward completing God's call, not becoming like someone else. Transition brings new ideas and methods, not retreading used ministry tires. Allow the God who called you show you the ways he wants you to travel to his future for you. No one got to the Promised Land through the Red Sea before or since.
  3. Transition will crash under the weight of change if it happens too quickly. Leading change is like leading your child from adolescence to adulthood. Force maturity and you end up with all kinds of dysfunctions and issues. Encourage growth appropriately and you will watch your child mature into the person you have envisioned with them to become. Leading as a servant means you patiently move those you lead at a rate they can embrace. Leaders create change and embrace it easily. The majority of people resist it. I wrote before, "Patient persistence is better than immediate results in building a lasting movement on mission with Christ." 
I will cover the next three rules in the next post, but for now evaluate how you are doing with these guidelines as you serve those you lead to God's future for you.

The content for these principles were first published in Paul On Leadership: Servant Leadership in a Ministry of Transition (LifeWay Press, 2004, 73-74, Out of print.)