Transition For Transformation
By Reverend Celia Apeagyei-Collins
Founder and Chief Executive, Rehoboth Foundation
Foundation Scripture: 1 Chronicles 12:17-18; Numbers 27: 15-23
Sunday 24th November 2013
God is jealous for His work in New Wine Church; this is a local church with global responsibility. The eyes of the body of Christ have been upon this house in this season. You have been a case-study for many other ministries. Today I want to speak to you as a member of the family of New Wine Church about transitioning for transformation; transitioning for greatness. The glory of the latter house of New Wine Church shall be greater than the former house. I am not talking about the institution that is New Wine Church but you, the people of New Wine; you will be anointed to operate at a different dimension. However, before you enter into this season, God insists on taking you through something called transition. As you go into the next year, you will begin to make catalytic decisions about your life; some of you will change careers, some will change marital status, and some will become parents. Whatever it is that you are stepping into, transition is something that you must encounter. It is a movement from one concept or state to another and can be experienced in many different spheres of life. Those with teenage children will immediately recognise that suddenly, the formerly cute little boy or girl whom previously hung on your every word is suddenly full of hormones, moodswings and ready to challenge everything you say. They are transitioning from childhood to adulthood and it is up to you to accommodate the changes that they are going through. Transition is not to be ignored. It cannot be dealt with by means of ‘business as usual’. We must discuss transition and pay careful attention to it in order for transition not to be a traumatic experience.
Transition involves change and adaptation. It involves deliberately and intentionally embracing the new whilst honouring the old. New Wine Church, I urge you not to fail to prepare for your future. God reassures us repeatedly that He has given us the victory, however by the same token He also reminds us of the dangers of preparing to go to battle without having counted the cost; He is the same God whom assures us that we can do all things through Christ but at the same time, tells us in Luke 14: 28-30 to ensure that we have sufficient resources to finish the project upon which we are embarking. It is not a contradiction in terms; we have received the promises of God but must prepare for our future and therefore, our period of transition is of utmost importance.
Transition inevitably involves movement; from death to life; from an ending to a beginning. It therefore possesses the power to either make us or break us. Just because you have left a stage in life does not mean that you have arrived at the next stage of the journey. Leaving the old can often be much easier than entering into the new. Transition can very easily rob you of your sense of identity as it can often mean a loss of control and can also often involve the perception of periods of silence from God and therefore uncertainty on our part. However during transition, transformation takes place and therefore it must be embraced.
Questions often arise in periods of transition; the most common being ‘Where is God in all of this?’ God repeatedly tells us in scripture to be strong and courageous, the reason being that in transition, we will face situations that will challenge us and shake our faith. The answer to the question ‘Where is God in all of this?’ is always, ‘He is precisely where He said He would be’. He is Immanuel; God with us. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change. To the question ‘What is God doing in all of this?’ the answer is ‘He’s working all things out; He is working to bring His plans into fruition. He has gone ahead of us and is awaiting our arrival.’ Many of us have experienced having heard from God, to start a business or a ministry, for example and expecting for everything to work out tremendously well have found ourselves wondering in the face of apparent failure, whether or not we had actually heard Him. Transition often requires a new level of dependency on God; it causes us to follow a new roadmap of faith. If you have ever watched a potter at work, you will see that the lump of clay does not take form immediately. The potter moulds and shapes the lump until something barely recognisable begins to take shape. At the crucial time when the wheel is spinning furiously it almost appears that the potter has lost control, however it is at this point that the potter’s full attention is on the clay as he moulds and perfects its shape. You may feel that things have spun out of control however, be assured God’s full attention is on you at this most sensitive of times. Regardless of how you feel, whether you can perceive His presence or not, He is right there with you.
It is important to remember that transition brings about change. It can bring about a total alteration in life. No one likes change, it is contrary to our nature but we must pay attention to the process of transition. Here at New Wine Church there has been a change of leadership. Every great leader will be tested as to how carefully he guards the vision entrusted to him. Every great leader will make provision for the future. Look at the example of Moses in Numbers 27: on being told by God that he would not enter the Promised Land, he did not fight to stay alive, but his concern was to ensure that the people were not left without a leader to take them forward. He refused to die until a suitable replacement had been identified in Joshua. Dr Tayo Adeyemi did the same. I believe that he refused to die until God had appointed and prepared his successor. You will notice that he did not fight to stay alive; his concern was to ensure that the future was taken care of. God has taken care of the future of New Wine Church and has appointed Pastor Michael as a greater leader to take it forward.
Transition brings anxiety. What we are left with are private fears and anxieties that behind the public persona. Although few of us will admit it, many of us have secretly toyed with the question of ‘Is he up to the job? Can he do it? ’ Some of us are still sitting on the fence, adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude whilst nursing the secret questions in our hearts. Transition can either unite us or divide us; the choice is ours. The pull to look for comfort in the past is strong but it is dangerous. We tend to look for the past in the present as it makes us feel reassured. For everything that has been in the past we are truly grateful and say, ‘Thank you Lord’ however, we move ahead to the future. The children of Israel failed to go through this regimen and therefore when they encountered difficult times, they found themselves reminiscing about life in Egypt with garlic and onions. In transition the present and the future can feel unfamiliar. We need to cleave to God more closely as there is a danger that we can make the wrong move if we fail to see the future clearly. Transition can stir up murmuring and complaining. We know that those who indulge in such never enter into the promises of God. Transition is therefore filled with both temptation and spiritual opportunity.
Periods of transition demand psychological evaluation and careful self-reflection. You cannot afford to simply go with the flow but you must ask yourself why you are where you are; why are you a member of New Wine Church? Are you aligned with the vision? Where do you stand? In transition, you msut assess your obligations. If you are not intentionally and deliberately building, you may well find yourself as an obstacle. In the season of transition, you must be careful not to allow grieving to colour your perspective unduly. You must be aware of feeling guilt or a sense of betrayal regarding the memory of your old leader. You should not feel guilt or betrayal at the ministry making progress in Pastor Tayo’s absence. The memory of your old leader must not be permitted to become an obstacle to the future.
There is a need for you to intentionally accept your new leader as God’s choice. Your new leader is not in competition with the old and therefore no comparison is necessary. You must accept your new leader without comparison. We are human and it is important therefore to address this issue head-on and with honesty. There is a difference between the old and the new and God dooes not make mistakes. Your new leader is not like the old; Pastor Michael is not like Pastor Tayo. He is not a clone and must not be expected to be one. God considered that Pastor Michael had the attributes and qualities needed for this season. When Moses was going to exit the earth, as we’ve observed, he did not struggle to live. He told God to appoint a successor. Pastor Tayo was not one to make light judgments. Pastor Michael was chosen for this season with great care.
Moses, you will notice never told Joshua to be like him; he merely told Joshua to be strong and courageous and fear God. Similarly, David never told Solomon to be like him; he told him to be courageous and follow God’s ways. Moses was the first prime minister of Israel. He was the first to build the tabernacle and the first to establish the legal framework of the nation. When he was passing on, there was a need for a new leader to take Israel forward in a new way. There was no need for another law-giver or another builder of the tabernacle, the reason being that after Moses died Israel faced a new type of challenge: confederacies of armies came against Israel and therefore what was needed was a fighter, a warrior rather than a pen-pusher. God puts a leader in place with the future in mind. The same grace was available to Joshua as it had been Moses however, notwithstanding the very different purposes for which they had been called: Moses had parted the Red Sea, however when the need arose for Joshua to take control of the elements, he commanded the sun to stand still to enable him to get the victory and the same grace was at his disposal. With a new leader comes different competencies and skill-sets although the values upon which the old have been build will be retained. There will be no departure from excellence and the value attached to prayer and confession of the word of God, however things will be different.
When David was about to die, it was thought that Adonijah would be his successor. Adonijah was a warrior like his father, however God chose Solomon to take Israel forward. Solomon was no warrior but was commercially adept. When David was king, he encountered many battles however God was bringing Israel into a season of rest. The season ahead dictates and demands the leader that God puts in place. Pastor Michael has been chosen for such a time as this. The glory of the latter house will be greater than the former house.
Transition is a time at which to identify allegiances. When God selects a new leader, He affirms and validates them. This is because not only do the people have doubts, if they are prepared to be honest, the leaders themselves are often racked with self-doubt. In 1 Chronicles 12 when David addressed his men at the stronghold and questioned the motives of those who had pledged allegiance to him, the spirit of God answered through Amasai saying, ‘We are yours, David! We are on your side son of Jesse.’ David had previously only been able to attract the dejected, the indebted and hopeless, those whom had something to gain from being with him but now in this new season, helpers arose. In the old days, there was no need to ask why you came to New Wine Church; transition forces that question. In transition, there will be cabinet re-shuffles. If you are repositioned, do not be offended. There are new opportunities to serve. It need not involve casualties. You are coming to a set man; One whom God has chosen for this season. If you cannot submit to the leader that God has chosen, perhaps you should not be here. It is not logical to love the vision and yet despise the leader that God has selected to bring it into being. David experienced a new dimension of allegiance.
New Wine Church, this season of transition is your opportunity to examine yourselves and decided where your allegiances are. It is your opportunity to prepare yourself to transition for transformation into what God has designed for you to be.
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