I regularly connect with leaders who are in transition. They are in the midst of a work/role change or a major move. There always seems to be many moving parts, many questions and many unknowns. Most of the time they are very focused on what’s next. They want to discern what’s next. Or they just want to jump in and get going on what’s next. That’s totally understandable, but there’s often an important piece missing. That piece is taking time to look back with God on what’s been.
We end up missing a lot when we jump straight into a new venture without taking time to intentionally process what’s been. We miss formally celebrating what God has accomplished. We miss recognizing what we’ve learned. We miss grieving people or things we are leaving behind. These unprocessed feelings then tend to pop up in strange ways in our new setting. For example, we may not tend to hurts and wounds. They fester unhealed as we step into our new opportunity, or they linger in the community we’ve left behind. We most likely won’t bring healthy closure that blesses where we’ve been, and we will likely struggle to fully embrace where we are going.
To help leaders Lead Different in times of transition, I have developed a “Transition Examen.” I have adapted the ancient practice of daily examen to help leaders see God’s hand and hear His voice in the midst of seasons of transition. Here is a step-by-step guide:
1. Come Away–Set aside some focused time to intentionally “examen” with God this past season in your role/community/organization with God. Start with one hour in a quiet place. You can add more time or a second session if needed.
2. Pray–Pray and ask the Lord to guide you. Take Samuel’s listening posture (1 Samuel 3:7-11). Here’s a sample prayer: “Lord, please guide me in reflecting on this past season. Help me to see your fingerprints; to hear your voice; to know your heart and thoughts; and to discern my own heart and thoughts.”
3. Reflect–With the Lord, slowly work through the following questions about this season you are leaving. (You may want to use a journal or pen/paper to focus your thoughts. You could also invite a trusted friend to guide you through these questions.)
- What can you celebrate? (God’s work, your contributions, accomplishments, change.)
- What have you learned? (About God, new skills, leadership, people, life, etc.)
- Is forgiveness needed anywhere? (Do you need to forgive anyone or seek forgiveness?)
- What do you need to take with you?
- What do you need to leave behind?
- What or whom do you need to entrust to the Lord?
- How can you bless individuals/community as you go?
4. Respond–Use your reflections as a guide to prayer.
- Praise God for those things you can celebrate.
- Thank God for what you have learned.
- Share your grief with God.
- Formally seek or extend forgiveness (God, by your grace I choose to forgive _______ for ___________ and I release them to you.)
- Acknowledge what you are taking with you and formally leave behind what you need to (Lord, by your grace I am choosing to leave behind _________.)
- Entrust to the Lord (God, I choose to entrust _______ to you and your good care.). Bless (Lord, I choose to bless __________ as I leave.)
Are there any other ways you need to respond?
- Write a thank you note or share some encouraging words?
- Ask forgiveness?
- Pray a prayer of blessing over someone or an organization?
This process will take some time and effort but it will help you to transition well. Do you know someone who is in a season of transition? Please pass this post along!
Cheering you on to Lead Different,
Dr. Steve A. Brown
President, Arrow Leadership
P.S. If you are looking to gain traction on living a Christ-centered, holistic, sustainable and fruitful life of impact consider reading my book Leading Me. Grounded biblically, utilizing the latest research and drawing on the proven process of the Arrow Leadership Program, you will discover practical next steps for your most important leadership assignment…you.
Check it out in Arrow’s online store.