When seasons change

"The Changing Seasons" by Coppertrees

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Have you ever been involved in something that you just love, but after a time you feel like it has run its course and you’re “done”?  You sense your involvement and participation is drawing to a close and it’s time to move on.  It isn’t that you need to leave for ethical or moral reasons.  There is no drama, problem or failing on your part – or on the part of others.  But, you just know this season in your life is nearing completion.

Have you ever been there?  Perhaps it was with a job, relationship, leadership opportunity, or ministry position.  You may be a volunteer or paid employee.  You may have been involved in the activity from its inception, or recently have come on board.  Whatever your individual situation is, you know in your heart that your time and involvement is nearing completion.

"Tree in Four Seasons" by Roxymusic

A few days ago I wrote about the importance and joy of choosing contentment in whatever season you find yourself.  While this is key, it’s also important to be open to and perceptive of changing seasons.  Assignments and callings are not necessarily permanent.  Joseph had an important calling from the Lord, but it came to an end.  Moses was given a particular assignment to complete.  Deborah ruled as Judge for a particular time period.  Even Jesus’ public ministry lasted just three short years.  Seasons shift.  Callings change.  Assignments are completed.

Learn to assess and recognize the seasons in your life.  Be aware of God’s leading and direction.  Recognize when certain assignments or callings are winding down.  For indeed, everything has a season, and as we all know, seasons change.

When seasons change in your own life, keep these four truths of transition in mind:

Trust Him – Particularly in volunteer or ministry settings, but in other settings as well, we tend to develop the idea that we must serve, work or volunteer into perpetuity.  That isn’t the case; change is ok.  We can be called to a project (literally or figuratively), and when that project is complete, so too is our calling.  We should not discontinue our involvement simply because we don’t like our current situation (too easy/hard, too little money, etc) or because we’re discontent.  But we also shouldn’t continue beyond the time we prayerfully know we are done and should move on.  Not making that change simply because it will be challenging isn’t being true to yourself or your commitment.  To the watching world, your decision to make a change may not make sense.  Your peers, friends, boss and even family will not likely be able to discern for you whether it’s truly time to move on or if you are just discontent.  Pray and seek the heart and will of the Lord.  Trust Him to direct you.  In all your ways (even your changing ways) acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

Transition Well – All too often, change and transition result from a scandal or failure.  That’s why it is particularly important to transition well.  Provide an example of how to make a change for all the right reasons, and how to do it well.  Tie up loose ends.  Communicate your reasons for making a change.  Respect relationships and commitments.  Train a replacement.  Maintain integrity.  And as much as possible, avoid hurting others.

Move On – Andy Andrews, a wonderful speaker and writer, recently said that as long as you are still on this earth, you still have a purpose.  Look at the verses in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and notice that either it is a time to be quiet, or to speak.  It is either a time to plant or a time to harvest.  If your time of being quiet or planting is done, you cannot just stop there.  You must move onto speaking and harvesting.  When the winter season changes, spring comes.  There isn’t a time when it isn’t winter, but isn’t spring either.  As seasons change, your involvement in one activity is finishing in order for you to do something else.  Perhaps it is a new involvement, or it may be a greater involvement in an existing activity.  Prayerfully discern your next steps and move on.  Don’t just stagnate and do nothing.

"Changing Seasons" by roussimoff.com

Stay Put – Just because one area of your life may be transitioning between seasons, doesn’t mean everything has to change.  Perhaps your current volunteer activities are blossoming, producing much fruit and bringing you and others great joy.  At the same time, you recognize your housing situation needs to change.  Make the move housing-wise, but continue with your volunteer responsibilities.  Don’t change everything just for the sake of change.  Sometimes transition involves a total restart, but often it is a simple, small change in one area.  Make that change, but stay put in all other areas.

Are the seasons changing in your life?  Are you sensing that your involvement in a certain activity is nearing completion?  How can the four truths of transition – Trust Him, Transition Well, Move On and Stay Put – help you when your seasons change?