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Stuck: Navigating the Transitions of Life & Leadership

Compiled by Chuck Olson


Title: Stuck: Navigating the Transitions of Life & Leadership

Author: Terry B. Walling

Copyright: 2008

Whether for yourself or those you lead, understanding how to negotiate the transitions of life and leadership is an essential skill-set. Stuck: Navigating the Transitions of Life and Leadership delivers a thoughtful and hopeful presentation for tracing the work of God during seasons of change and uncertainty.

Check out these Book Notes to learn more about what this book has to offer.

Book Description:

Transitions are the in-between moments in a Christ-followers life. It has become evident that you cannot go back to what you know, but it has also become clear that you are not quite sure which way forward. God does some of his greatest work during times of transition, shaping character and aligning us to his purposes and plans. We want out of this time, but God wants in. STUCK! will help you better understand your transition moments, providing new tools for understanding how God is at work, and how to navigate uncertain waters as you chart the way forward.

Book Quotes:

Transitions occur in the lives of all committed Christ followers. They are the moments and days that lie between what is, and what is to come. Transitions are in the seam between one development phase and the next. They deepen one’s trust and dependency on God, and help Christ followers acquire greater voice recognition, God’s voice. Stuck! is about finding God in new ways and discovering his purposes, while at the same time just trying to survive and navigate a time of transition. (VI)

A transition is a defined period of time where one phase or period of an individual’s development ends, and another phase or period needs to begin. (XII)

Transitions serve to bring about needed change, provide clarity in life direction, consolidate learning, deepen values, shift the paradigms and advance one’s influence and/or ministry. (XII)

Transitions often unfold down a generic pathway. This generic path consists of four steps or phases of a transition: the entry phase, the evaluation phase, the alignment phase and the direction phase. (XIV)

Transitions are often filled with far more questions than answers:

  • Why have I lost my passion?
  • Why can’t I shake this restlessness?
  • Why do I feel isolated?
  • Why all the inconsistencies?
  • Why do I keep rehearsing tapes from the past?
  • What would happen if I do step out?
  • What if I fail? (8-9)

In the midst of all these questions, it is important to keep in mind some truths about transitions:

  • Transitions take time, often from three months to three years.
  • They are common to every Christ follower.
  • They often involve revisiting difficult moments and struggles.
  • They are often intensified when a Christ follower is also leading others.
  • They are a major tool used by God to shape character and life direction.
  • They come to an end. (9)

Transitions are good at surfacing the why questions:

  • Why is God allowing all of this to happen?
  • Why has the future disappeared?
  • Why has God gone mysteriously silent, right when I need answers?
  • Why have I lost my confidence?
  • Why does nothing seem to work anymore? (13)

Four Stages of Transition

  1. The entry stage of a transition is often characterized by emotions of restlessness, confusion, self-doubt, and isolation, as well as relational trauma and a consistent lack of energy. Life situations unravel. Life crisis and relational conflicts happen. Mounting uncertainty and persistent problems create the need for perspective. (20)
  2. The evaluation stage of a transition causes a Christ follower to look back. In the evaluation, Christ followers often rehearse past struggles, confront issues of wounding, consolidate lessons, deepen convictions and challenge life assumptions. Evaluation is accelerated and deepened when one can externalize his or her thoughts and reflection. Evaluation and alignment with God’s will often work together. As a Christ follower better understands the past, issues for prayer and surrender can surface.      (21)
  3. The alignment stage embodied by the act of surrendering to God’s sovereign will and agenda. Alignment causes Christ followers to become more pliable and teachable, open-minded and openhearted to needed change. (21)
  4. Beyond alignment and surrender is the direction stage. (21)

The breakthrough moment in a transition comes as a follower moves from alignment to direction. (21)

Transitions often launch with traumatic life experiences. They serve to catapult an individual into a time of isolation, questioning and struggle. (27)

The entry stage of a transition is about letting go. Often, God is calling our pretending into question. God will no longer allow his followers to hide behind the false story they have constructed about the world, and their view of themselves. (27)

Breakthrough, and the end of a transition, often comes at unexpected moments. It can come as the result of a chance conversation or a throw-away line, on the edges of a new thought, from reading a book, from attending a workshop on a completely different topic, from an extended time in scripture, or during a TV newscast. God uses a variety of methods to break in on a life and bring a new direction.      (48)

This transition often centers on deciding what one will not do, in order to surface what one must do. (61)

The key to discovery of one’s calling for the future is to first gain perspective of how God has been at work in one’s past. Perspective yields signposts that help inform where God might be leading in the future. (66)

The second half of life is about deciding the best over the good. The first half was about exploring. The second half of life is about deciding and refining, especially in light of our multiple options and responsibilities. Discovering one’s role often brings breakthrough during the deciding transition. (78)

One’s influence is not primarily the result of one’s position. Leadership–not position–is primarily tied to influence. Whoever has the influence has the leadership. Influence is about relationship. (82)

Reflect for me on what you already know about what God wants you to give away to others. Here are some questions that might help:

  • Do you know what you know?
  • Do you know what you do?
  • Do you know what you have to give others?
  • When does God seem to really show up when you are just being yourself?
  • What does God want you to focus on from here to the end?
  • What is the best setting for you in which to live out that role?
  • What do you think would please God the most? Would that please you?
  • To whom do you want to entrust what you know?
  • What few could most benefit from your lifelong learning and skills?
  • How can you get near them to build relationships? (94)

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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