We’ve all come to the end of a chapter in a book and anticipated the start of the next one. Whether the previous section was good or bad, the anticipation of those next few pages is always urging us to read on. When it comes to new chapters in life, though, this just isn’t the same. Whether a new job or a new house, a new church or a new school, the ‘newness’ of something doesn’t always make it as exciting or as easy as what we’ve just come from. Change can be scary and overwhelming.
One of the newest (and biggest) chapters of my life is only two months old as I type. Transitioning into my new role as the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church has felt like a chapter change if ever there was one for me! It’s been exciting and terrifying all at the same time—which isn’t easy. If you’re working through transitions as well, pull up a chair; you’re not alone here. Living in the tension of transition can be difficult, but I think (by God’s grace) I’ve been able to make some progress. So, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way, and perhaps they’ll be of help to you with whatever chapter you’re heading into next.
- Be dependent. My kids are completely dependent on me, without apology. Whether it’s a diaper needing changed or a meal needing prepared, they’re constantly reliant on me. Yet, as adults, dependence seems totally countercultural. We live in a society that prides itself on being independent, marching to the beat of our own drums. However, I’ve learned that independence has gotten me nowhere fast. In reality, I’m completely in need of God’s direction—His strength and wisdom. So instead of running from dependence, learn to lean into it, into Him.
- Be connected. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had people that know and love me come alongside me in this journey. They’ve been my cheerleaders, prayer supporters, and listening ears. If I’m being real here, the tension of transition comes with many fears and a lot of uncertainty. Having a handful of friends I can be honest with about my fears has been so crucial throughout this process. As you head into the next chapter of your life, get connected; be courageous enough to invite a few trusted friends into that journey with you.
- Be mentored. The greatest gift I’ve received through this entire transition was a year of close companionship with Joe, my predecessor. There is no amount of class time or pages read that could ever add up to the insight and wisdom I’ve gotten from him. Joe spent countless hours with me answering questions, brainstorming, and telling stories that prepared me for where I’m at now. Find someone who’s already read the chapter you’re about to start and get their notes!
- Be yourself. So often I feel like I need to fit the mold of what everyone else is envisioning for me, for my position, for this church. I’ve learned, though, that just like I can’t read a book from someone else’s perspective, I can’t navigate life from someone else’s shoes. I’ve got to be myself. While I love my predecessor with all my heart, I could never be him. So as I continue on in this new chapter, I’m prepared to not have all the answers; I’m prepared to learn some as I go; I’m prepared to make mistakes. In the midst of all this, though, I’m most prepared to be myself.
Nothing earth-shattering here, just some things I’ve learned (some easier than others) as I’ve navigated this journey over the last year or so. Hope it helps you!
After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.