Transitions seems to be a theme that is saturating my life time and time again. As a bit of a self-proclaimed sports junkie, the theme of transitions is something that has always sparked my interest. The key to any team's success in sports like soccer, basketball, hockey and volleyball is how well they perform in the transitions. Transitional defense and transitional offense separate the mediocre teams from the elite teams. In one aspect, a team capitalizes on the mistakes of its' opponent and goes on the offensive. In the other, a team is able to recover from its' own mistake and defend their territory. In these moments of transition the system or the structure doesn't really matter, but the response to the situation and the set of circumstances does.
Discipleship is often filled with transitions. These transitions can occur during a leadership change, a vision realignment or a different systematic implementation of ministry philosophy. In these transition moments, what remains key is how a team, or in this case, a community responds to the transition. Our natural human tendency is to reject change of any sort. Believe it or not, we are creatures of habit, and we love some sort of routine. Statistics have shown us that youth who experience stability are those who most often become stable adults, but youth that have experienced instability in their formation years tend to never be able shake the mantle of insecurity as then enter adulthood.
So if we know that transitions will occur in every type of ministry setting, how do we prepare ourselves to continue the pursuit of discipleship in the midst of change? What I am learning is that the key in times of transition is to make change manageable. Knowing that we as humans do not embrace change willingly, as leaders we need to be able to invite people to experience the transition with us by projecting and emphasizing stability. Seems kind of weird doesn't it? Pursuing stability in the midst of transition?
The allies for any leader in any context in the midst of any transition are communication and relationship. In moments of transition, the need to communicate effectively and efficiently in the context of relationship is crucial. Back to my sports analogy...on transitional defense it is key that all teammates communicate what is being done or needs to be done in order to defend one's territory effectively and efficiently. Hockey players will make sure to take a man or cover a portion of the ice with relentless vigor, all the while verbally directing their teammates what they can do to help defend...well, that's if their team is good at the transitional game. Same goes for offense, players need to communicate with one another in order to gain an opportunity to change the momentum of the game to their advantage.
Discipleship is similar to these sporting pursuits. No, it's not a game, but it is a pursuit that must be aware of key transition moments in order to ensure that the purpose of creating lifelong followers of Jesus Christ is not being neglected in any capacity.
Maybe you find yourself in a moment of transition in your own life. My encouragement to you is embrace clarity in your communication strategy while making sure that all you do is supported by your relentless pursuit of authentic relationship with those whom you are serving in a leadership role.
Transitions happen. Whether or not we are prepared to lead in the midst of these moments is entirely up to us and our readiness as leaders to make the change manageable.