By Tim Sweetmen
If you asked me a few years ago if in the span of three years I’d get married, graduate college, have a baby, live in three states, and work three different jobs — well, I’d probably slap you.
Yet here I am once again with a sore back and tape residue on my fingers. Mmm. The sweet smell of cardboard.
Change is scary and complicated. It’s so easy to be paralyzed by doubt, despair, confusion, or stress. Sometimes it’s all of those things at once.
Perhaps most difficult about change — whether it be a major life change or simply the the few hours after work — is remembering that it’s not about me.
It’s not my transition. It’s not my move. It’s not my change.
As the boxes pile high or the baby gear fills up the second bedroom, the ongoing struggle with selfishness rises. What better excuse to neglect others than I have so many details to take care of these next few weeks. Yet more than ever, my family needs me.
With that in mind, I offer you four keys to fighting idolatry in our greatest of transitions and change — whether that be a new baby in the family, a major job change, or a move across the country (or in my case all of them at the same time).
1. Fight for contentment
Change is an inevitable part of life. It freaks a lot of people out. But we’re never promised that we get to stay somewhere or keep a job for life. We’re just promised one thing: God. As Paul says in Philippians 4:11, he’s “learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.” His secret? “I can do all things through him who strengthen me.”
The best way to prepare for change is to find contentment in whatever circumstances — knowing God is sovereign over all things. We may not have it all under control. He does.
2. Bring about consensus
When going through change, especially something like a major move or job change, there should be a consensus in our family, especially between spouses. If our family is not on board with the decision, more conversations need to take place. A major move or job change has to involve more than just me. We’ve got to have the “team” behind us.
Making a decision without consensus may be one of the biggest signs of idolatry and selfishness in our hearts.
3. Set clear expectations
When a consensus decision has been made and everyone is on board with the big change, it’s time to take action. The expectations for the move should be clear among everyone involved.
For a move, start asking questions like:
When having a baby, answer questions like:
For a job change it might be things like:
4. Serve your Family
When you’ve worked through your expectations, it’s time to exceed them. For example, if your wife is expecting to do a lot of the work with the new baby — step it up and take care of the baby more than expected. Maybe even change a few extra dirty diapers.
This is a key time to fight the temptation to serve yourself and your “needs.” Don’t do it. It’s time to serve your family. They need you more than ever as you prepare for the big transition. This is key as you lead in being content no matter what happens (something will go wrong), rallying them behind the change (it might not be easy), and setting expectations (and of course exceeding them). Through it all you should be the servant.
Change is never easy, but as the leader of the home you’re expected to work as hard as possible to serve and make it as smooth as you know how.
If you find yourself surrounded by boxes, looking at a new job, or you’re buying diapers for the first time — take heart. God is doing something special. Get ready for Him to work in your heart like never before.
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