Lessons in Transition
My family and I have been going through our fair share of transitions lately (you may or may not have noticed the absence of posts for quite some time). Within a matter of days, our family welcomed daughter #3 (Maia Zoe Yoon), moved (literally in the 2 days that Mommy was recovering with baby in the hospital), went from full-time church pastoral ministry to bi-vocational ministry (there’s a whole other vision story behind this!), and felt the Lord leading us to transition out of our current church (again, this is an entire story of its own). So, I thought it’d be nice to get back into the writing game simply sharing a few things I have been processing (I promise, I'll try to keep it short).
Promotions from God do not always look like promotions.
I have had many (no, really… like, a LOT) conversations with people who were disappointed with how God’s new “calling” over their life had turned out. I think too many [young] Christians assume new callings mean bigger platforms. Yes, sometimes, God immediately calls us to bigger and better things that are clearly bigger and better, even from a worldly standpoint. However, we should not be surprised when a promotion from the Servant King of an upside-down Kingdom looks a lot like a demotion.
I get a lot of similar responses when I tell people that I am now bi-vocational.
Is the church having a difficult time financially?
Did something happen?
Did you get in trouble?
Is something wrong?
My calling to bi-vocational ministry was always there. In fact, I think I felt most outside my comfort zone being in full-time ministry. Sitting in a church office trying to make the most of my time studying, reading, praying, worshiping, preparing, doing admin work - you name it, I have probably tried it. But, truth be told, I just wanted to add value to the work that God was doing outside of the church, in other [what we often call] spheres of society. So now, I work part-time in the church and full-time at a warehouse. Would most people see it as a promotion? Probably not. Do I? Absolutely.
A call to wider influence is an invitation to deeper intimacy.
Part of my decision to go bi-vocational (and, I believe, the reason God was releasing us from the church we are currently serving) was my call to wider influence. I have always felt a calling to disciple and mentor college students, young professionals, and young families. Yet as I take a step forward toward this "promotion," I feel a greater emphasis on the fear of the Lord in the way I lead my personal and professional life as well as the way I lead my wife and children as husband and father.
I began to see all the ways I fell short in so many different areas of life.
I've been constantly failing at waking up earlier to spend that sweet morning time with Jesus.
I've already failed a number of times to send my wife the [promised] daily emails with an encouragement from my [failed] time with Jesus.
I've been extremely inconsistent emotionally toward my wife and girls.
I haven't been to the gym in a couple of weeks.
I haven't been eating the way I planned to.
The list goes on and on...
But as I sat (and still sometimes sit) there defeated, I feel a growing sense that the Lord is inviting me to experience what is the height, the depth, and the width of His love. I hear His gentle encouragement, "John, you are not failing more, you are seeing more failure... and it's because I'm calling you to a new depth that will sustain your new reach."
This story is not unique to me.
I know that I am not the only one in the world going through this season of promotion. In fact, I write this only because I KNOW there are others out there being promoted this very moment. I would like to invite you to spend a moment to reflect. Here are some questions that I've found extremely helpful to me this season:
Are you where He is asking you to be, or are you where others expect you to be?
Are you longing for promotion from God or promotion from the world?
Are you giving God room to lead or are you "assuming" your faithfulness? (College students & those in business come to mind - are you allowing God to lead you in the classes you register for, the business decisions you make ... or has the way you decide & do certain things become routine?)
Are you giving God time and space to interrupt your agenda with His?
God, I pray for those you are calling into a season of wider influence and deeper intimacy. I pray that their desire would be to see Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I pray for wisdom and resolve as they navigate through what others around them may see as a downgrade. Lord, may they be confident in the what, why, and how of where you have placed them. We love you, always, Father. In Jesus' name I pray.