I had an internal sense of uneasiness with my previous job for a while, but I ignored it. I felt that “it was time,” but I didn’t know what it was time to do. So instead of seeing this as a call to cross a threshold into something new, I interpreted this nudge as a summons to double down on my current efforts and reinvent myself at my old job. It wasn’t until I encountered external pressure from my boss that I was forced to act. This prompted me to find help. I decided to do a Google search on transition and liminality, a word that I was very familiar with as I had focused my dissertation on liminal times and spaces that college students face during their identity and faith development journeys, in hopes of finding some new resources to help me. I had no idea that I would discover and connect with Jon DeWaal at Liminal Space.
I always looked forward to our Skype sessions together, and rarely missed one. The experience of having someone to really see and hear me and affirm my experiences was extremely life giving and reassuring. And though there were times that I didn’t see things as Jon saw them, such as the trapeze metaphor (I would joke that I needed something to keep me on the ground), I did trust and respect Jon enough that I would eventually step into unknown knowing that he was walking alongside me.
I experienced two job changes during my time with Jon. I learned that I need to pay attention to and honor my feelings, and embrace my imagination. I learned that it’s when I’m curious about something or someone, that I’m at my best. I have to constantly work on moving through frustration towards formation.
One of the results of my work with Liminal Space is learning that leadership is about transition management. As I’ve lived with this insight, I’ve become interested in coaching for what I’m calling innovative leadership: the art of connecting people and their stories with God’s mission and vision for the church and world. I’m doing this in my current position as an Executive Pastor and investing in other ways to live out this call. In the process of coaching for an innovative leadership model, I’ve embraced the Disc Jockey as a leadership metaphor. I believe that music is a good metaphor for the environment of the church that helps people to connect to God, individuals, others and the community. The DJ must feel, intuit and sense the desires and needs of the party crowd and mix at least two sources of music together to create seamless transitions between recordings for dance and respond to. This requires an understanding of culture and change management (process of transition), identifying the stories that shape and inform people, creating and communicating new narratives (mixing old narratives to create a new narrative) in a 123-ABC Sesame Street approach of call to action steps.
My advice to someone stepping into this work is to be patient with yourself. Take care of yourself. During any life transition, you will feel like you are losing your mind, and in a sense, you are, because your old mindsets and world views don’t work. You have to lose or let go of your old way of thinking, but you are not going crazy. Liminal Space is an excellent resource in navigating the difficult emotional, psychological and spiritual waters of transition.