God has wired me in such a way that I like to watch things grow. He’s given me a passion for gardening. And every gardener knows that if you don’t have changes in seasons, your plants will not make it. You need seasonal changes in order for plants to grow.
The same is true in your life. You need to experience various seasons in order to mature and grow.
In fact, you’ll go through many seasons in your life. You’ll experience joyous seasons, like a new marriage, a new ministry, or a new child. And you’ll experience tough ones too, like when you are grieving, experience a job loss, or struggle with a new family dynamic.
But here’s the good news: God wants to use every one of the seasons you’re in for your good.
From my personal experience, the following four questions will help you make the most of every season:
1. What can I learn?
We can only learn certain things through experience. Deuteronomy 11:2 tells us, “Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him” (Deuteronomy 11:2 GNT).
To understand the seasons of life, you have to start with this one basic truth under your belt: Life is a test. Life prepares you for eternity. You’ll live on earth 60, 70, or 80 years. Then, if you’re a Christian, you’ll spend the rest of eternity with God.
But God wants you to learn a bunch of things before you get to heaven. Of course, he wants you to know that he died for you, rose and conquered death for you, and wants a relationship with you. Then he wants you to learn certain character qualities, because the kind of person you are is what you’ll take with you into eternity.
There are important lessons to learn in every season of life. Here are two of those lessons:
- If you flunk a test in the school of life, you can retake it. If you’re not learning to be patient, God will put more irritations in your life. He wants you to grow. Without tests, you can’t grow.
- Then, when you think you’ve graduated, you’ll discover even more classes to take. As long as you’re on Earth, you won’t stop learning. You’ll always have something to learn about God, yourself, other people, and about the world. God wants you to grow up.
God will give you the kinds of experiences you will need in each season to help you grow in the ways he wants you to grow.
2. What can I enjoy in this season of my life?
Life is short. Too often we tell ourselves that we’ll enjoy life more in the next season, whether that’s when we graduate school, get married, have kids, get the next ministry assignment, or become empty nesters.
Pastor, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but when we wait for the next season to enjoy life, it doesn’t happen. We need to enjoy every single season of life now. Life is too short to do anything else.
Ecclesiastes 11:8 tells us, “People ought to enjoy every day of their lives” (NCV). I know that’s not always easy. You’ll have many rough days in your ministry and in your personal life.
But, as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, I’ve found that we can “give thanks in all circumstances” (NIV). On bad days, good days, hard days, and easy days, we can live with a sense of gratitude because it’s a day that God has given us.
3. What is most important in this season?
Life is about choices. Sometimes we believe the lie that we can do it all. We simply can’t. You’ll have to make tough choices about what matters most in the particular season you find yourself in.
Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to, “Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days” (PHILLIPS).
To make the best use of your time, you will need to say no to certain things. Maybe it’s a ministry you’ll need to pass on to someone else. Maybe you need to restructure your ministry. Maybe a hobby you love should go to the back burner.
One of the most important considerations when thinking through what matters most in your current season is your family circumstances. Many seasons of marriage and parenting will require additional attention from you. Don’t hesitate to put as much energy as you can into those relationships. You’ll never get those days back. If you leave your church tomorrow, they’ll find someone else. Your family will not.
4. How can you help others in this season of life?
As a pastor, you’re likely spending many seasons of your life helping others. But remember this: You help people best when you’re helping them through your unique God-given SHAPE. Make sure you’re leveraging the unique way God has wired you to help others.
You can also become easily caught up in the responsibilities of ministry—staff meetings, preparing sermons, and maintaining your facilities—that you don’t spend the time serving other people who need you. But Proverbs 3:27 reminds us: “Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help” (NCV).
Pastor, what season are you in today? Remember: God wants to use every one of the seasons you’re in for your good.