Thriving in the Land of Between
When I first moved out to Grand Rapids to attend seminary, I took a job at a Christian publishing house. I know I was never going to stay. As much as I enjoyed my work and became friends with the people around me, the job was temporary, a bridge between where I had been and where I was going.
After getting fired, my life was flipped upside down. I didn’t know where I was headed or what I should be doing. I questioned everything about the calling that had brought me to Grand Rapids in the first place.
I asked so many questions: Should I leave seminary? Am I really cut out for church work? Was I wrong about where I felt God was leading me?
Because no answer was good enough to warrant drastic action, I decided to dive head-first into my transition. After all, I didn’t know how long I’d be here. I might as well make the best of it.
Most of the time when he hit a “land of between” we adopt a mind set of endurance. Rather, we should remember that God is still at work and a “land of between” can also be enjoyed.
When I entered the land between, the challenge became how to learn as much as possible and allow God to show me where he wanted me. During my time in-between, I ended up becoming a work-team facilitator and joined a steering committee to help with employee morale and empowerment. I received a certificate degree in graphic design and took on responsibilities with regards to budget and planning. At the time, these were just fun ways to occupy my time at work. Little did I know that God had something bigger in mind. I use all of these skills daily in my work at the church, and I see opportunities on the horizon where they will continue to serve me well.
Here are three things I learned along the way. Sure, they may be obvious, but I know that I need to be hit over the head with the obvious every so often.
God is smarter than we are.
I know that this is a phrase that shares obvious information to most of you. He’s always teaching us about ourselves and preparing us for the next chapters of our life. We rarely know this at the time, but the fact remains: He’s working our lives out for his glory, giving us what we need not necessarily what we want. Pray that he opens your eyes to those opportunities which will shape you into the person God needs you to become for whatever is on the other side of between.
Don’t waste your time in the dessert of in-between.
Ask for opportunities to grow and take advantage of them when they are offered.
Make notes of leadership styles and startagies that you’ll bring to your next position.
Treat this time of transition as an internship of sorts. Learn a new skill or shadow a key leader.
Find a mentor who can guide you through the process. Meet regularly to discuss what you’re learning.
Have lunches with people in leadership and learn as much as you can.
Soak up every moment of your transition. Every step on your journey is one worth remembering, if only for the sheer fact that if got you-or is getting you-to where you are now.
Transitions are just that, transitions. It may not be easy and in fact may take a giant dose of courage, but you will eventually leave and move on to a new job. When that time comes, don’t burn bridges, leave well, and prepare to invest yourself fully into this new opportunity in ministry. You’ll be scared, but God doesn’t ever say moving on is going to be easy. He just says that He’ll be with you every step of the way.
Are you in a time of transition? I’d love to hear about what God is teaching you during this time!
On a related side note: My pastor, Jeff Manion, talked about this at the Orange Conference. Check out my notes here. He has some great advice for traveling this part of your faith journey.