transitions

By July 24, 2014Church

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Norwalk, CA (at least I think it’s Norwalk … it’s dark outside and Los Angeles all looks the same to me — with or without sun light).

Hannah and I are in Los Angeles to visit five colleges in three days. Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at Azusa Pacific. Today we’ll be at Biola and Westmont. On Friday we’ll conclude our whirlwind tour by visiting Hope International and Point Loma Nazarene.

When we return home I will start looking for second, third, and fourth jobs in order to pay for it.

As we walk around the different campuses, I can’t help but remember the little baby whose crib was in the second bedroom of our 800 square foot condo in Concord, CA. My “office” became her first bedroom and my computer desk was (literally) shoved inside a closet. Once, when she was four or five weeks old, I was leaning against the door, watching her sleep. This distinct thought came over me like a blanket: “You’re responsible for this. Don’t screw it up.”

While my parenting style has evolved beyond a primal desire to not “screw it up,” my intentions haven’t changed all that much: love her deeply, model Jesus before her, and set her up to be successful in whatever God leads her to be and do.

One more year and she heads off to college.

Four more years and I will be taking the same trips with our youngest daughter, Hope.

Transitions.

We’ve been through several seasons of changes at Mountainview, the church where I am privileged to serve as senior pastor. Most recently, we said goodbye to one of my dearest co-workers — Mark Scott. Mark is returning to Ozark Christian College and to the mission of training kingdom workers. There is no one I would rather entrust a future pastor to than Mark Scott. That being said, it doesn’t lessen how much he will be missed now that his desk is no longer twenty feet from mine.

Transitions.

Tonya and I have lived in three states, changed jobs, celebrated anniversaries, been to weddings and funerals, grown a few gray hairs, and experienced a pretty full life.

Full of transitions.

My guess is, you have, too.

As I’ve reflected recently on the transitions occuring in our family, I’ve come to realize that how a person handles transitions is a key indicator of how effective they will be in general. Why? Because life is a series of transitions.

Some transitions are small: road construction changes our daily commute. Starbucks raises their prices by a nickel. The packaging of our favorite toothpaste changes.

Other transitions are large, and therefore more significant: a parent grows older and needs more attention. A new boss arrives. A spouse leaves. A child rebels. Business slows down. These transitions are more than just a nuisance; they are life-threatening — either literally or certainly figuratively.

It sounds cliche, but it’s true: you can choose to see the transitions in your life as problems or opportunities. Either way, they will still happen. Life will continue to change, in big and small ways.

So, how can you handle transitions in a healthy and mature way?

  1. Be clear about what is to never change. Faith, values, bedrock convictions. These are the foundational building blocks of life. These are what allow you navigate the storms of life successively.
  2. Hold everything else loosely. As I’ve grown older, my list of non-negotiables has grown shorter — which means I’m able to hold more closely those things I truly hold dear.
  3. Choose to enjoy life. This is not to say life will be easy, or that we live in denial. Life can be downright hard. And it will be your choice how to you will respond to it.