Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The story of my life…change, chaos and transition

Written by: on May 19, 2018

There is two words that come to my mind and begin with the same two letters—Change and Chaos. That pretty much sums up my life in a nutshell.  Chaos is something I have definitely felt in this season of my life. It seems a though some of the change I am experiencing in my life is unpredictable. With so much change taking place it is difficult at times to grasp. It has felt like the world around is spinning constantly and I am just along for the ride. I assume the posture of grit and bare it or que sera sera “what will be will be”. I am away that change is inevitable. Adjusting to the change is challenging but even more so knowing how to transition in the midst of the change is even more of a feat.

Last fall I preach a sermon entitled “Moving Forward: Experiencing Transformation in the Midst of Transition”.  At the time I was unaware of how much I would need that message to take root in my own life. I felt like God gave me that message because he knew what lied ahead of me and in doing so allowed me to share it with others.  My grandmother would say just keep on living you will understand it by and by. I didn’t quite understand what she meant by as I grow older those words ring true. So as my life has been hit with one change after another these past 8 months (especially) I find the readings the past two weeks to be so timely. Honestly, the reason why I am just now able to write this post is due to significant change in my life that I am working through the transition process.

William and Sarah Bridges in their book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change stated that Change is situational and transition is psychological.[1] I would have to agree with that. For example, I just moved into a new home. Moving was the change but transitioning into living in a new town, having a new commute to work (extending travel time), having to unpack and purchase pertinent items for the household on top of having to pay a mortgage is handled by my ability to transition well. I believe I am in between the neutral zone and new beginning.  I felt some solace in reading this statement “Chaos is not a mess, but rather it is the primal state of pure energy to which the person returns for every true new beginning. . . .” [2] I am still processing this statement. As I process, I am reflecting on its meaning and how it truly resonates with my life.

Currently, my role at work has changed and continues to evolve. I not only have to manage the change I am experiencing but I have to help my team transition in the midst of the change taking place at work. Bridges noted that “Getting people through the transition is essential if the change is actually to work as planned. When a change happens without people going through a transition, it is just a rearrangement of the chairs.”[3] I could not agree more. What you do not want to see is change become churn and never amount to anything.  While I do agree with Robert Quinn that making a big change should not be incremental, I do feel as through transition should be. Each transitional stage should be carefully managed and require full engagement of leadership and team members. I am going through this now and I hope that I can draw from our current reading on change and transition to help me become a better person and leader.


I truly believe that these concepts can work in both personal and professional life experiences.


[1] William Bridges, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change (Place of Publication Not Identified: Da Capo, 2017), kindle location 227.

[2] Ibid, 192.

[3] Ibid, 232.

About the Author

Christal Jenkins Tanks

5 responses to “The story of my life…change, chaos and transition”

  1. Mary Walker says:

    Christal, you certainly have been living this book for the last few months. You see to be handling it with much grace.
    You give me more to think about – the transition being more incremental than the Bridge’s describe. I’ll bet with all of your experience you would really be good at it.
    God bless you in your new home. What a fun, exciting transition (though mixed bag??)!

  2. Jim Sabella says:

    Christal, I so agree. Nothing worse than change for change sake or going though tranition only to find that we are in the same place we started. Thanks for sharing your live experence.

  3. Kristin Hamilton says:

    I was looking forward to your post, Christal! I know these transitions have been overwhelming yet good and your application here is spot on. I wholeheartedly agree that there are increments in the neutral zone and we must navigate them carefully.
    PS I love that your sermon was written for you!!

  4. Katy Drage Lines says:

    You’ve had the opportunity to manage the transition of your move (though ongoing); now I pray that you’ll be able to use some of the wisdom from Bridges (and Quinn and others) to guide your team through a healthy transition process at work as well. You seem well-situated to do just that, as stressful and chaotic as that might appear.

  5. Christal,
    Good as always. The transition is so critical. The Presbyterian church has a very specific process for pastor transition that – while slow and cumbersome at times – is specifically designed so that a transition is made, not just a change.
    It isn’t perfect, of course, but I have seen time and time again the value that it has in forcing congregations to process the change and make a transition. This, then sets the church – and the new pastor – up for a much higher chance of ‘success’ moving forward.
    Sounds like you are having to institute the transition for your team and manage your own at the same time. Prayers!

Leave a Reply