Working Through Transitions in Both Life and Work, by David Mosser
I’m often asked why I wrote Transitions. I point to my experience as a senior pastor of a large United Methodist church. Part of being a pastor is connecting with other churches and pastors. So it’s not surprising that my realization about transitions started while visiting colleagues. In talking with others, I noticed that dealing with transitions was at the heart of many of their problems.
Whether it was staff changes, leaving a denomination or trouble in relationships, everyone dealt with situations differently. The ability to shift gears and accommodate change, however, proved key in effectively navigating different situations.
In the course of my job, I often work Saturdays. An unexpected result of which has been frequent requests from funeral homes to perform services. This surprised me, until I learned that though a majority pastors don’t work on Saturday, many families prefer Saturday funerals to allow more people to attend.
Why do I bring this up? Performing these services made me realize that negotiating a transition is very similar to negotiating the grief process. Both involve accepting and working through change. The very life and faith skills you need to keep your balance during grief are those you need to transition from one life change to another.
We all have those turning point moments in our lives; times of transition to new situations. Sometimes these transitions are obvious, a new job or church, and sometimes they aren’t, such as a change in a relationship. Whether the change is personal or professional, the skills to navigate a transition are the same.
One great example of this is in Transitions. John McClure discusses his experience with a congregation who lost their church to fire. The transition from having a building to not was one filled with grief in letting go of an old and familiar church. However, McClure was able to envision a new place of worship for the congregation. Even as he suffered from grief, he was able to anticipate something newer, better and more functional. Ultimately, it was his ability to transition to a new situation that allowed a new and better church to be built.
Change is difficult. It’s also inevitable. You can fight against it or you can accept change as an opportunity for something better. Whether the change is personal or professional, the skills to navigate a transition are the same.
David N. Mosser