In times of ministry transition, I have learned that I need to guard my heart. I have often said that the hardest part of ministry is leaving.
To be honest, I hate leaving.
Leaving a church means losing your church family, saying goodbye to people you’ve opened your heart to and invested in. It means leaving people who have cared for you and your children. It means leaving your actual home that you’ve managed to create for you and your family.
It also includes gossip, people making assumptions, and entering a whole new world where people have expectations of you that you don’t even know yet. You’re thrust into a new home, new culture, new leadership, new people, and new roles. It’s all heartbreaking and overwhelming at the same time. Lots. Of. Change.
As most of us go through this several times, I have never really had anyone walk me through this. And with all these emotions, fear, and overwhelming change, I have found that I tend to let my heart become hardened for self- preservation. To protect myself, I put up walls. Walls holding onto the pain of leaving loved ones, and walls to prevent trusting new people.
I began to have fear about starting all over, and shut doors that God wanted to open, because I couldn’t bear the thought of closing those same doors like before. During times of transition, if I didn’t guard my heart, I would just end up going through the motions because opening my heart up, yet again, was too risky.
While I still think leaving and starting over is very difficult, I have learned that allowing my heart to stay open to Jesus, His healing, and tender instruction allows me to not close my heart off to the new assignment He has given and the new people He needs me to shepherd.
I have learned the literal meaning of transition for me in this verse:
“Guard your heart above all else, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
Take some time to meet with Him--just for you--during times of transition. We get so caught up in taking care of all the tasks of moving and getting everyone acclimated that we forget to take care of our own hearts. If I am yielding my heart to Him in painful circumstances, I am not allowing hardness and walls to build up. And then, everything I do flows from heart, guarded by our gracious God.
Guard Your Heart is Entry TWO for our blog series on Transition in Ministry featuring the mentors of our Let's Come Alongside mentoring opportunity, now available. Join us next week for more insight from an LCA mentor right here at Sanctuary.
Casey Graves is a wife, momma to two girls, and co-pastor/planter of Foundations Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She enjoys a good cup of coffee with a friend or a family date day when she finds some spare time. What draws her to Sanctuary is her desire to truly share her vulnerabilities and struggles to help others dealing with similar wounds and insecurities that come with ministry. Casey recently published her first book, Perfectly Weak, now available at Amazon, and blogs at We Are Perfectly Weak.