Change = Ripples

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Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over the last several months of my ministry life there is one word that covers every aspect: change.  As I have navigated through this season I have been reminded of a lesson I have learned many times before.

Every change has ripples.

Think about a nice smooth lake or pond.  It is calm, predictable, everything is working fine.  But if a rock gets tossed into the water, not only does it make a splash (the initial change), it also creates waves and ripples that permeate from that spot and move further and further away in every direction.

It is pretty common knowledge that most people don’t like change.  But I don’t think that is entirely true—most people can deal with a change, it is the ripples they don’t like and are scared of.  And often times even good leaders don’t consider the ripples before making a decision.

Even an obvious change that is needed and good can still have ripples you haven’t thought of or didn’t see coming.  A simple example: I change my diet and exercise routine to lose weight and be healthier, but it also effects my entire family.  Time spent working out is time away from my family.  Meals need to be planned and prepared differently.  The cost of the gym membership changes our budget.  The ripples start to really matter pretty quickly.

Whatever you are leading, whatever decision you are facing, whatever change you so desperately want to make, before you do anything—think about the ripples.

Good…but not easy

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I just finished my first week officially in my new position at Cloverdale.  The past month has been one of transition as I gradually handed more and more off to our new youth pastor.  For the first time in my adult life I am not a youth pastor and it does feel weird.  I am very confident this entire thing is good, but it also has not been easy.

There have been several months of prayer and lots of conversations with those closest to me through this entire process.  However I realize for those outside my inner circle this change has come as a surprise.  I hope this post can answer some questions if you have them.  Or if you are seeking God about a change in your life I hope this can help in some way.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-11 (NLT) For everything there is a season…I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

Having been in the church my entire life I have seen a lot of pastors change positions and/or churches.  Especially the last 15 years being closely involved in the youth ministry world, I have heard a lot of people say “I just know it is time to change.”  That has never made sense to me…until now.  I still have the same burden for teenagers to fall in love with Jesus and I want youth ministry to win as much today as ever before.  However, I knew my season as the youth pastor at Cloverdale had come to an end; I either needed to change roles on our staff or do youth ministry in a different church.  I trusted God to give me the right answer, and I feel he did exactly that.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NLT) A time to grieve and a time to dance

Now that the transition is actually happening I feel like I am grieving and dancing all at the same time.  I am happy to see the good side of all these changes, but it also hurts in many ways.  Remembering all that God did in this past season calls for dancing.  Realizing all that could have been done better is humbling.  And handing off what feels like a part of you to someone else is gut wrenching.  Knowing God is leading this brings a lot of comfort, but I still am grieving as well.

Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV) You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

As the season changes in my life and ministry, I realize that it is important to grieve to bring a proper close to that chapter.  I committed to do youth ministry until God told me to do something different, and now that He has it is time to grieve, to celebrate, and move on.  I gave my all to this past season, and I will give my all to the next one.  I am excited to see what God has in store!