How To Embrace Your ‘New’ Season

Ok, if I’m honest I really don’t have a firm grasp on embracing new seasons myself. But like many of you, I am in the middle of weathering one currently so…let’s have a discussion. Shall we?

As I was beginning to pen this post, this scripture came to mind…

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Eccl. 3:1

A Season, or time, for everything. The Hebrew meaning for time here is a ‘set or appointed time.’ In other words, the seasons you and I are facing today are no surprise to God. There is a reason we are where we are!

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And sometimes this requires us to reevaluate some of the regular patterns and habits we’ve set in place. To change things up a bit, if you will. Now, this is really difficult for a guy who ‘needs’ to know what to expect in my day and who values (to a fault) concrete habits. It’s my comfort zone, BUT God operates best outside of comfort zones!

So, what does it look like to EMBRACE a new season of life?

Here’s what I know and have personally experienced. We must be willing to step into it. This requires (demands) faith. And faith without action is dead. You and I must be able to rest in the promise that God is not surprised by where we are right now, and he does have a purpose for us while we are there.

Be intentional to spend time in his Word. Ask him to speak clearly to you through his Word and through other believers. Journal your thoughts and what you think God is telling you.

 

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How To Weather The Seasons Of Life Like A Boss!

Ha, that title is the EPITOME of click bate (and I do hate click bate).

I’m not weathering my personal current season of life like a boss, so why would I even attempt to write something like this for anyone else?

Easy.  I’ll give you two reasons.  1. This isn’t really for you.  It’s for me.  Writing helps me process my thoughts, mood, and ultimately my actions.  So there!  2. Confession.  Yep, sharing my own shortcomings will hopefully keep me humble, and might even encourage someone else along the way.

So, with that….

fall

For many of us, changes in the four seasons require certain behaviors from us.  Here are a few examples.  Our clothing changes depending upon how warm or cold it is outside.  One season may call us to shovel snow or put de-icer on the driveway.  At other times in the year cutting the grass or raking leaves might be in the cards.  And the list goes on.  There is very little, if anything, you and I can do to avoid these types of elements.  We are forced to make modifications to accommodate the particular elements of each season.

winter

The seasons of life are absolutely no different!

We must look ahead, prepare, and sometimes expect the inevitable challenging elements.

spring

Take empty nesting, for example.  As much as I knew it was coming, it felt like it came out from nowhere!  This is still a challenge, even though it is going really well.

In the past 6 months, my wife and I have:

  • Relocated back to our home state of Washington from Colorado. (with two of our kids, plus a fiance’)
  • Begun discovering what leading a Missional Community looks like.
  • Started adjusting to military life with a son in the Navy. (he’s shipping over seas next week)
  • Getting used to another son living away in Colorado.  It’s hard when they’re not close.
  • Discovered the health and beauty of doing bi-vocational ministry in our community.

summer

In all of that, here are a few ways we have tried to weather these seasons like bosses!

Community | Authenticity changes everything.  Plus, God created us to live in community with one another and with Him.  To support and encourage each other.

Meditation | Prayer, or often simply sitting in the Lord’s presence.  In this current season, sometimes all I can do is sit quietly by myself and think about Jesus.  Sitting with Him while doing nothing is so therapeutic!

Exercise | Even when we don’t feel like it.  My wife and I go to the gym 5-6 times each week.  We’re not always excited about this, so it is helpful when we hold each other accountable to go weather we feel like it or not.  The key here is simply to remain active somehow.

Talk | With each other.  For us, this has made our marriage even stronger.  We share our real anxieties & pain with each other.  I realize this is a significant struggle for most men, but trust me.  Your marriage will advance to a level it’s never been before!

Journaling | I use Evernote and blog.  If you prefer the old fashioned paper and pen, try getting yourself a nice Moleskin tablet.

In the end, all seasons come to an end so that new ones can begin. The Bible reminds us that there is a season for everything, a time for every matter under heaven.  This should encourage us when we are in a dark season that better days are coming.  Likewise, it gives us advanced warning when things are sailing smooth that …

What about you?  What season are you in, and what have you found to be helpful to weather it?

OR….which of the items I mentioned above tend to be challenging to actually implement?

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4 Healthy Steps For Your Current Season

I have found that we are constantly in one of four very distinct seasons of life.  And these four seasons tend to cycle.  I’m sure you can relate.

4 seasons

Mountain top | This seems to be the shortest season.  But it also tends to be the time in life when we don’t seek after God as aggressively.  This makes sense, right?  When everything is going great, marriage is solid, and the car is running well…we often find ourselves not NEEDING GOD as much.

Heading into a valley | You know this season.  It is inevitable and you can virtually sense things rolling down hill with increasing momentum.  It’s Monday morning.  You receive a disturbing phone call on your way to work.  The car breaks down on the highway.  Maybe uncomfortable changes are on the horizon at work or in your church.  This season is not horrible, but it’s an indication of things getting harder.  And they’re usually just around the corner.

In the Valley | This one…..well, it’s just terrible.  It’s the polar opposite of the Mountain Top season and lasts quite a while (or at least appears to).  Crying ourselves to sleep at night and waking up with a sarcastic outlook on each new day is pretty common.  This season is so bad and so difficult to maneuver through, believers can actually experience a deeper and richer intimacy with Jesus.  We tend to search harder, pray more often,  and look for evidence of His activity in our lives with more detail than every before.

Heading to the mountain top | Relief!!!  It’s here.  Can’t you feel it?  Subtle signs of hope begin popping up in areas where pain and discouragement were just the other day.  This fuels us with new energy for life and a positive look forward into tomorrow.

So, what can we do when we’re in the two most challenging seasons of life?  Here are four practices I have personally learned to be life-saving for me over the years.

1. Stay in God’s Word |Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)  The Bible is packed full of encouraging, insightful, and knowledgable passages like this.  More than this, though, it is God’s Word.  He uses the Holy Spirit to speak and reveal things from His heart to ours through reading the Bible.  In the dark seasons it’s less about how much we read, and more about reading anything in God’s Word every day.    

2. Get out of the house | Surround yourself with others.  People who genuinely love you and have your best interests in mind are going to be encouragers to you.  They can also be a powerful sounding board in you situation.  God chooses to speak to us through other healthy believers quite regularly.  Seek them out.  Take a risk and let others into your life.  This rarely ends badly.

3. Read | Find a book or blog that deals with your season of life.  Something that you find helpful and encouraging or challenging.  Ask a friend or pastor for names of good Christian authors they read.  Reading helps redirect our attention away from our own stress and worry.  It provides positive food for our mental energies.  Find something today and dig in!

4. Pray for the difficult things | It’s one thing to pray for help, strength, or simply the need for the next ‘feel good’ season to come quickly.  To accept the season we are in, however, and ask the Lord to teach us something new is a whole new approach.  It’s hard, but take intentional moments to set aside your pain and dismay in order to ask God to grow your understanding of Him and His will.

What season are you in today?  What did you learn, or how did you grow, from your previous season?

Leave a comment below.  Let’s grow in this life together.

 

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.ryankapp.com

3 Ways to Continue Leading When Life Gets Difficult

Leaders don’t have the option of quitting when life gets difficult. 

tornado-over-road

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  Loss of a loved one.  Wrecked the car.  Unwanted medical diagnosis.  Family drama.  You name it…we have all experienced an untimely life difficulty right in the middle of a season when more than usual is demanded of us as leaders.  It never fails.  Maybe it’s an outreach event, speaking engagement, or project deadline.  Or maybe it’s launching a new ministry or planting a church (that one’s mine).

So, how do we continue leading through a challenging season without losing our sanity, credibility, and family?

Here are 3 critical steps I’ve used recently.

1.  Evaluate | No matter how much you feel that you don’t have even 5 minutes to yourself, take time to stop, breathe, and evaluate your current situation.  Inventory the season you’re in so that everything is on the table.  Otherwise, we fall into the trap of simply running around putting out fires as our task lists seem to multiply like Gremlins (you might not get that reference if you’re under 25).

2.  Adjust | Now that you’re breathing again and can hopefully look at the big picture objectively, there are likely some adjustments that need to be made.  Say this with me, “I am not Superman!”  Furthermore, you are not Jesus either.  Now, take 1 to 3 items off your plate.  Don’t have a coronary.  I’m not saying this is forever…just long enough to get you through this season ALIVE.

3.  Move forward | If you have actually done #2 and taken the ‘appropriate’ items off, you should be feeling a huge weight lifted.  Next, simply inform those people who need to know and how this adjustment might effect them.  This does two things.  It provides others clear communication about you as a leader and how you are prioritizing your time.  It also builds in accountability.  When others know our plans it helps us actually stick to those plans.  We know they will be checking up on us.

What would you add?  What has worked for you.

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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