The Emotions of Transition

Transition times can be rough on your family and on your personal mental health. You may be feeling emotions that are both happy and sad as you transition from one ministry to another. You may also be feeling that God has provided something new and ended a season of something beautiful in your life. In youth ministry, our emotions can hit us fast and hard in the season of transition so it will be important to keep yourself grounded and learn how to conquer some emotions and lean into others.

Conquer Fear and Lean Into Patience

At times, it is difficult for even the most faithful to look at their circumstances and see that God will always come through. In times of transition, many questions will arise about moving and where to live after you move all of your things. It will be somewhat frustrating to remember that this transition is taking place because God has called you to a new place. I often read Abraham’s journey in the Bible and think that he must have wondered where God would have him and his wife go. I wonder if he didn’t spend some time in fear of what was to come after his journey was over. Though all of the nights spent without a place to call home, Abraham doesn’t waiver. Abraham constantly leans into the idea that God has called so God will be faithful and fulfill promises.

After you get to your new place of ministry, there will be a time of rebuilding. You may have spent years getting to know the names of your teens and the families in your congregation at your previous place of ministry but now you only know a handful of people at your current church. Getting rid of fear is only one half of the equation. We may be in new places that stretch us for a time but the Bible says to consider any trial pure joy.

Lean into patience. Have patience with yourself and your new ministry as you take the time to get to know them and learn to trust one another. This time of patience will build more strength and depth to your ministry, lean in.

Conquer Sadness and Lean Into Hope

Remember that being excited about a new ministry doesn’t make you love your previous ministry or the people involved any less. Sadness is a real emotion that can take over our hearts when we are leaving a ministry. We wonder what things we could have done better, what teens we should have reached out to more than we did, and even who will take care of our flock now that we are going away. In times of transition, there will always be an element of sadness but you cannot let it define your future ministry. Some of us will need to take the time to properly process our previous ministry before moving onto the next. Several wise youth pastors have mentioned that taking a week or two in your transition may help you to go through this grieving process smoothly. Stay close to God and continually seek to be self-aware to know what sort of healing you and your family may need in transition.

If we stay in this process of grief, we may not see the hope of what is to come and the new ministry that God has led you to. God has called you to a new place and you should feel the excitement and the confidence to lean into hope. Even when we don’t see the bigger plan, God does. See the hope of a new ministry and a church that is excited for a new season of youth ministry. Ask God to help you see a vision for this new ministry and get excited about some of the things that you will be able to accomplish with this new group of young people. In the times that seem dark for us, we can always know that we have hope in Christ Jesus and it is our job to proclaim that hope to as many people that will listen. Remember your calling and the hope you get to share.

Conquer Seclusion and Lean Into Trust

During transitions in ministry, you may feel as if you are closed off from friends and family. You may come across feelings of seclusion because you cannot tell everyone about the work that God is doing in your heart and mind. These feelings of loneliness can tear you away from those that you love and cut you off emotionally from the ministry that you have worked so hard to strengthen. Another good bit of advice from some seasoned youth pastors is to be present where you are and don’t let your heart wander off too soon. Even after you have announced that you will be transitioning, be present with those that you are still ministering to and the people that you are partnering with in ministry.

In this time, find the people that you trust and pray with them. As always, continue to stay close to your family. In this time of transition commit to praying for one another daily and being a space to have confidential conversations. You may also want to seek out trusted friends who would be willing to pray for you in this delicate time of transition. You do not have to transition ministries alone and there are friends and family in your life that would love to pray for you as you walk this difficult path of trusting God. Lean into trust and allow God to remind you of the prayer warriors who will remember you and your family. 

Conquer Anger and Lean Into Peace

If you are walking away from a ministry with anger for a person or event, it is time to let it go. Intentionally seek forgiveness for the things that you can’t change.

Feelings of resentment towards your brothers and sisters in Christ will not help to usher in the Kingdom of God. Partner with the God of peace and choose to forgive those who you may have hurt or those that have hurt you in this process.

Go out of your way to make amends and take the steps that you need to do to forgive. Don’t let anger mark your future ministries. If we choose to let go of our anger and give it to God, we are able to see the abundant blessings that God has given in any ministry. Find peace in knowing that you did good work at the ministry at your previous church and that God’s grace will cover your own shortcomings. Find peace learning from your habits and hang-ups and lean into the presence of God. Learn from any mistakes you may have made previously that led to conflict and go out of your way to intentionally find peace in any new ministry. Always remember the blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Seek out the peace that only God provides and live into this peace in your transition.

Jen Willard