Photo by Meoldy Campbell. Available at Flickr.com
Are you in transition? Do you anticipate a coming transition? Right now, I know several people in various kinds of transition: job change, marriage, retirement. Transition can be scary. I think transitions are fearful times because most of us don’t have a good way to understand what transition is about. Many of us don’t have a good model of transition to follow.
At last year’s Catalyst conference in Atlanta, Craig Groeschel presented a talk about four phases of transition based on Paul’s words in Acts 20:22-24. I want to share with you my notes from that talk. I think it will help you think about transition and also about following God’s calling in your life.
Phase 1: The Spirit’s Prompting
Paul said he was “compelled by the Spirit” to go to Jerusalem. In Greek, the connotation of the word compelled is to be “wrapped up” or “bound by.” It’s not something you fully understand. It’s more like a gut feeling, a vision, a dream, or an inspired moment. If you’ve ever had a moment like this, you know that you sense something inside and just “know” it is right. I’ve had this sense on three occasions I can remember. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but it was a voice nevertheless.
Phase 2: Certain Uncertainty
Paul also said, “… not knowing what will happen to me there.” This is where most people stop, but not knowing what is next is a critical part of transition. God doesn’t share all the details of his plan because, quite frankly, most of us can’t handle the details. If we did know the details, we would quit before we got started. Instead, we must take steps of faith before God reveals more. In doing so, we step away from a sense of security and into God’s security. If you’re not leading with some uncertainty now and then, you are not leading with faith.
Phase 3: Predictable Resistance
Paul knew that resistance was in his future. He said that the Holy Spirit told him to expect “prison and hardships” in every city. If you are not ready to face opposition when being obedient to God, you are not ready to be used by God. Obedience to God comes with opposition from the world. Don’t worry when you’re being criticized. Worry when you’re not. (A pastor friend of mine added: “If you don’t have any resistance, it means you’re not working with people.”) Anything significant you do will be met with resistance.
Phase 4: Uncommon Clarity
This is the sweet spot of your life. It is your personal, God-ordained groove. Paul said his life was worth nothing to him if he was not able to share the good news of God’s grace. Paul had uncommon clarity about his mission. To achieve this clarity, you must have the discipline to say No to all the good things and say Yes to the things that can change history. Uncommon clarity should focus on your response to “For this I was created!”
The four phases of transition can be summarized as:
- The Spirit’s calling
- Stepping away from security
- Expecting resistance
- Developing clarity
Note: Much of the content above comes directly from Craig Groeschel’s talk at Catalyst 2012.