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5 Ways to Navigate Difficult Change

Lately, my role at Granger Community has seemed to be in almost constant transition. I doubt it’s much different for you. It seems it’s often about seasons. Not weather-related seasons, but church-life seasons. Bible studies, groups, campus initiatives, building projects, discipleship, long-range planning, volunteer ramp-up, back to school…you know the seasons. And they don’t have clean stopping points. There’s tremendous overlap. One season or initiative begins while the former is still going strong.

This past weekend, I taught about how change and our stress inside of change require a look under the hood. We end up ignoring God and what he’s up to because we become so self-absorbed.

However, the focus in this post is about actually navigating the change you’re facing. Maybe you’re in overlapping seasons. Or perhaps you’re transitioning responsibilities and your plate is full. Here are a handful of quick thoughts to help you steer your way through the choppy waters of change without falling out of the boat.

Embrace the change.

• It’s here. You’re in it. Accept it. More denial won’t make it go away. Blaming someone else won’t deflect it. Being angry at your spouse, your employer, your kid, your parent, yourself, or God won’t alter the past and erase the transition you’re in.

• Know it’s a human experience. You’re not the only one facing change, being forced to live out of your comfort zone. Look around. Everyone around you is in it. Everyone.

Don’t go it alone.

 • If it’s a change at work – include the team. If it’s a change in your family, involve other friends and family members. If it’s private and personal, be vulnerable enough to confide in a trusted friend.

 • As you include others, empower them. Particularly if they can help you. And they can. Let them.

Position yourself to win.

• This is not about making sure you win and everyone else loses. It’s about accepting that there are things only you can do in this process. Only things you can choose, you can act on and lean into. Your perspective, your attitude, your sense of trust will position you to navigate the change a step at a time, a day at a time.

• This is not about playing hero. Not about defying everyone else to make a point. It is about knowing what you must do, what you can do that no one else can do for you.

Look in the rearview mirror.

• Pay attention to the landmarks and signposts behind you. Notice God’s faithfulness in other transitions. This is not the first time you’ve experienced change. Find hope and confidence in God to sustain you through the place you find yourself now.

• Project the mirror months and years from now. What will you want to see as you look back on this season? What will you want to be true about your relationships? About the people you love? About the lessons you’ll have learned and the legacy you’ll have established? What or who will be left in your wake?

Guard what’s important.

 • Whatever the change, regardless the transition – not everything has changed.

-For instance, the nest in our home may be empty, but I’m still married to Laura; she’s still the love of my life. I need to guard that relationship carefully.

-I’m still serving as one of our pastors; I still have responsibility. I need to maintain focus.

-Even though Liv is away at school most days of the month, most days of the year – I’m still her dad. How do I navigate that relationship and nurture her even though we’re in a different season? I have to pay attention to what’s important.

• In change, there’s never enough time. So it’s easy to let Scripture lose its significance. Our time with God is a quick “Help me, Jesus” rushing out the door. Your pace requires more prayer. Prioritize your connection with Jesus.

What else would you add to this list to navigate change and transition in a healthy manner?