Jonathan A. Buckland
As we rapidly approach the close of a year, we anticipate the possibility of what lies before us in the year ahead. The closing of one chapter transitions us to the opening of a new chapter that invites us into a new season filled with obstacles, yet pregnant with possibilities. If we are to navigate transition moments well, it requires us to be reflective on lessons learned in our past. We must identify those things in our lives that will never change, while also recognizing the things around and within us that must change.
Transition moments are critically important as they will determine whether we enter the next season with a healthy mentality and momentum working for us. Perhaps you have been as I have, lost in the thoughts of “what if…?” When we are bold enough to begin to dream of what could be, it becomes clarifying as to the hope that we can receive in the season ahead. Maybe my “what if” thoughts will resonate with you. If not, perhaps you could spend a few moments journaling your “what if’s” for the next season ahead.
Change Can Happen Through Me
What if … you believed that change could happen through you and not simply to you? When we embrace the idea that change can happen through us, we become a willing participant in the transition ahead of us rather than a victim to all of the change that happens around us. While I may not be able to predict the future, I am quite certain that each of us will walk through significant changes. While I may not be given the choice as to whether some of these changes occur, I can choose to be an active participant in stepping into the change with a faith to believe that God will be present with me. The alternative would be to experience the changes around me as an uninvited change occurring to me.
When Jesus called His disciples, He was inviting them to become active participants in instituting the change that needed to occur in our world. While some may wait around for change to occur to them, the invitation is still going out for you to be co-laborers with God in writing a new story in a new season.
Choose Significance Over Success
What if … in the season ahead, you focused more on living a significant life rather than chasing after a successful life? Success has become the pursuit of our age, but often to the detriment of lives of significance. Significant lives are focused on creating meaning in the mundane, regardless of whether it is viewed as successful by the watching world. The chase for success will often leave one exhausted from the pursuit to catch up and surpass the moving definition of what culture defines as success. If we look around us, we would see opportunities to step into significance abound. Success requires the cheers of the crowd, whereas significance can be accomplished with little more than a belief in the purpose and meaning of what you are pursuing.
I believe our culture desperately desires lives of significance over success. Jesus stated in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” He was offering a world that was desperate for meaning the ability to step out of the pressure of success and step into the fulfillment of significance.
Prioritize the Internal Over External
What if … you placed as much importance on arranging your internal world as you did your external world? Could it be possible that the condition of your inner world could transform your external world? What if the change you have been seeking all along was found in the deep work of your inner world rather than the quick fixes externally we so often resort to? What would change in this new season if we measured ourselves by the weight of our soul rather than the breadth of our influence? Possibly, we have allowed ourselves to seek a breadth to our lives that cannot be sustained by the depth of our understanding. In the process, we go searching, hoping to find our true selves, only to discover that the search for understanding isn’t discovered through our breadth, but through our willingness to peel back the layers we have carefully crafted to cover who we truly are inside. Maybe we can’t share ourselves with the world, because we don’t know who we are and, therefore, who God has created us to be.
The aged prophet looked at King Saul and stated in 1 Samuel 16:7, “For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” While we are all familiar with the pressure of external eyes evaluating us, what God truly cares about is the inward condition of our heart. Too often, we find ourselves in situations that require us to dig deep into our souls, only to realize we have little to draw from. Focusing on the internal condition of our souls will lead us to invest more time in His presence and Word in the season ahead. If our soul is full internally, it can buoy us through any external storm we may face ahead.
Focus on Direction Over Speed
What if … in this next season, we placed less focus on the speed of progress and more on the importance of our desired destination? We always seem to be in a hurry, moving here and there, rapidly firing on all cylinders with little time to even consider that we could be feverishly moving, yet not knowing where we are going. Perhaps, we should be reminded that clarity of purpose is of more importance than speed of progress. Too often, I have seen people arrive quickly to a destination they never intended to go. God has a calling for each of us, but it requires us to embark on the journey He has for us, not on chasing quickly after the things which seem appealing or interesting.
When I look at the life of Jesus, I don’t seem to find that He was ever in a hurry. While there were crises happening all around Him and the disciples were trying to get Jesus to understand the urgency of the moment, He always appeared more interested in leading people to a deeper revelation of the clarity of His purpose. Could we be in a hurry to change things around us, only to recognize that the longing of humanity and the appeal of Jesus’ call to become a disciple is the unhurried and restful moments where we sit at Jesus’ feet and allow the Holy Spirit to remind us that we are loved just as we are in this moment, not on what we will be or accomplish?
What If? A simple question with profound implications. The question invites you to shift your thinking to consider a future much different than your past or even your present situation. I believe the moment we are in could be a fulcrum that shifts momentum and pushes you toward your divine destiny! However, the questions still remain. Will change happen to you or through you? Will you step into significance over success? Will you prioritize your inner world over the external? Will you place more importance on the clarity of your purpose than on the speed of your movement?
Jonathan Buckland has served as a Missionary, Youth Pastor, Lead Pastor and Church Planter. He holds a Master of Arts in Ministerial Leadership, teaches as an adjunct instructor with Destiny Leadership Institute and serves pastors and leaders through coaching, consulting and mentoring. He, along with his family, reside in Ohio, where he works at Cleveland State University.