“You’re becoming someone you’re not.”
Those were the words my wife spoke to me during a particularly tense time at the first church I served. Very poor leadership had created a toxic environment, and I was becoming increasingly negative, cynical, and bitter.
That’s not my natural or desired personality, and my wife was pointing that out to me.
That’s when I knew that I had to leave.
So I resigned, without having another job, and trusted God to provide another opportunity – which He did.
While I loved that congregation, I had to make a change before it changed me.
Just over a year ago, I faced a similar predicament but under different circumstances.
I have always had a heart for sharing Jesus with others and I am effective at it. But during my preaching career, I had unintentionally become insulated in a “church bubble” and isolated from those most needing to hear the good news about Jesus. While I was doing good work and ministering to lots of people, the “bubble” was stunting my own spiritual growth.
So, when an opportunity to increase my mission field and ministry platform presented itself, I knew that I needed to take this leap of faith.
Again, I had to make a change before I was changed into someone I didn’t want to be.
So, I took on another job in a secular environment where I get to have real-life conversations everyday with people who are searching for the very things Christ provides. In this job, I also get to be an advocate for the less fortunate to industry and political leaders across my state.
Now, I am a preacher who is daily practicing what I am encouraging my congregation to do and I am doing it within the same secular context as them.
The change I made has added to my credibility as a preacher and placed me on the mission field that my “bubble” was keeping me from before.
While making that change was a nerve-wracking test of faith, it has been totally worth it.
And maybe you are sensing that you need to make a change in your life as well.
If so, here’s three steps that have helped me each time I needed to make a significant change in my life.
- Be Clear. Simply making a change for the sake of doing something different won’t produce the long-term impact you desire. You must be clear on what you are wanting to achieve and on who you are wanting to become. Ask yourself questions like these: (a) Why am I feeling the need for change?; (b) What impact do I want my life to have on others?; (c) Who do I want to be as a person?; (d) What do I want to experience in life?; (d) Will this change make me more or less aligned with God’s will?
- Be Courageous. Making changes in our lives requires courage. In fact, one of the main reasons why people don’t change – even when they know they need to – is because they lack courage. Change is difficult, which is why you need to be clear about the change you want to make. However, if you embrace change as a journey that will lead you to growth, development, and improvement, you will be able to summon up the courage you need. When you do, you will grow your self-confidence. One question that may help motivate you is this: “What could I achieve or gain if I had the courage to make this change?”
- Be Connected. Making a change in life, whether big or small, is a challenge that demands a community. Before, during, and after making a change in your life, be sure that you are connecting to God and to a group of trusted advisors. The Word and Spirit of God can you give you much-needed discernment and godly advisors can help you navigate your way through change. You will also receive ongoing encouragement, strength, and courage from these connections.
So, what do you want to change in 2022?
Whatever it is, be clear about why you are doing it and what you want to accomplish through it; be courageous and persevere; and be connected to God and a supportive community. Commit to the process and enjoy the journey.
I have grown immeasurably through the crucible of change, and you can too.