One of things Methodist Ministers are known for is moving regularly. It’s not unusual for ministers to move somewhere between every 5 to 10 years. Deep in our Methodist DNA, in fact, is the practice that although we are invited to a place for a period to time, we are actually appointed each summer by the Methodist Conference for the ensuing year, and last-minute unexpected changes have been known.
This all means that for Methodist Ministers and the communities they serve, transitions happen fairly often, and we are a bit more used to them than others. As ministers we are also very used to all moving house in the first two weeks of August. For me transitions, from one place to another, from one leader to another, from one focus to another, are healthy. They ensure that we keep moving, that we don’t become stagnant and they bring fresh eyes to a context or situation. That said, consistency is also important, and therefore regular transition and consistency have to be held in balance.
While transition is important – it gets us from one place to another, from one house to another, from one job to another – I think the process of the transition is just as significant. It is in the process of transitioning that many significant things can happen. These might be practical; clearing out the cupboard you’ve not been in for years, throwing away items you don’t need anymore, travelling a long journey from one place to another. They might also be spiritual and emotional; saying goodbye to people you’ve worked with or cared for, letting go of a difficult period, stepping out into the unknown.
It’s easy to miss the spiritual and emotional things that are going on when the practical takeover. Yet noticing these things, being aware of them, journaling or expressing them in some way, can help us. Noticing the spiritual and emotional means we don’t miss the significance of the transitioning as well as the transition itself.
If you are undertaking a transition this summer – from school to work, to a new role, getting married, or any other transition – why not take time to notice what’s going on in the transitioning, as well celebrating where you have been and where you are going?