To embrace change in our ministries or our lives, we need to fully comprehend the difference between “transition” and “change.” While these concepts are often used interchangeably, they are two separate elements of a process. The full transition process includes the following elements: anticipation, change, adaptation, integration and resolution.
Transition is the process that includes an actual change. Change is the event that has occurred or that you have chosen to incorporate into your life.
Anticipation is your emotional state prior to and in relation to the pending change. It is how you feel about the coming change, as well as what you say to yourself and others—which of course is indicative of how you feel about it. Common feelings associated with anticipation generally include the range of emotion spanning from excitement to anxiety.
In adaptation, the task is to assimilate the new circumstance or event into one’s lifestyle and new view of life. The adaptation phase is probably the most difficult because it is the most active phase in which we are processing a great deal of new information and developing a new identity.
The transition from adaptation to integration brings welcome relief as the acute phase of the transition is behind. In the integration phase, new skills needed to live comfortably have been developed. There is an emerging identity that is grounded in what was previously “the new.” There is still some sense of connection to the old, but the new has now been embraced as the way life is at this phase. The shoes are still new and shiny, but they are broken in and molded to your feet in a way that brings a sense of comfort rather than distress.
Once the adaptation has occurred, resolution follows closely behind. The resolution of a transition is the establishment of a new normal. The new is fully embraced and incorporated into your identity so that it becomes the new foundation for your life. The old is not forgotten or let go; rather it becomes an integral component of your life or in the life of your ministry. The resolution of a transition does not mean that you “get over it,” but that you fully integrate each part of your history and life story, weaving a rich, textured tapestry.
Any transition includes these five phases. Understanding this model will help as you face the different dynamics of each phase. Use this model to plan for any pending transitions in your ministry and your life.