Tips for Making a Major Life Change
*This was my most popular post of 2013. It really resonated with so many people. I hope it helps you!
A few months ago, my wife, Annie, and I made a major life change. We left our comfortable home in Atlanta, Georgia. We left our adult daughters, our parents, our friends and an incredible church and moved to Curitiba, Brazil to work with our C3 Churches here. So many of our friends have remarked, “How can you do that? I could never take that kind of a step of faith.”
Obviously, a decision to move to another continent is not one to be taken lightly. At the same time, changing jobs, starting a business, getting married, deciding to have children, or buying a second house as an investment property are not decisions that one should take lightly, either. What are some things that need to be considered before someone makes a major life change?
1. Prayer. For those of us who would say that we are Christians, prayer is the first place to start for any major decision. There is a verse in the Proverbs that says, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” Prayer aligns our hearts, our desires, and our motives with God’s will.
When the opportunity came for Annie and I to work with the C3 Churches in Brazil, we spent much time praying for God’s guidance. Was this what God wanted? As we sensed that this was what we were supposed to do, the sense of uncertainty was replaced by a sense of peace.
Prayer must not, however, become an excuse for not taking action. At some point, we have to act. God’s guidance usually comes as we take that first step. We ask God for His direction and then step towards where we sense Him leading. As Pastor Dean Sweetman says, “You move and then God moves.” Faith is exercised as we trust him to guide us as we move.
2. Counsel. No major life change should be undertaken without getting some good advice and counsel. This doesn’t mean that we run it by a few of our mates at the gym and get their input. Good counsel means that we go to someone who is a little further down the road of life than we are. This might be our pastor, small group leader, our boss at work, or maybe even our parents.
At every step of the way, Annie and I stayed in close contact with our pastors as we made our decision to move to Brazil. The counsel and advice that they provided was incredible and very helpful. If we are going to get counsel, it is important that we take it seriously. God puts leaders in our lives to help us make the right decisions. Ignoring good counsel can be very dangerous!
3. Timing. What season of life are you in? Starting your own business might sound like a great idea. You would get to leave the job that you hate and do what you are passionate about. However, if you are carrying significant credit card debt and/or student loans, this is probably not the time to launch out on your own. Instead, developing a plan to get out of debt might be the road that takes you to the place where you can start your business in a few years.
For Annie and I, our season of life contributed to our decision to move to South America. I had recently retired after almost thirty years as a police officer. Our daughters are both grown and married. This was the perfect time for us to make a major life change.
4. Act. What major life change are you contemplating? So many people have big dreams that they are scared to act on. Maybe you are not at a place in life where you can make the big life change that you envision. Don’t let that stop you from moving towards your goal! Getting out of debt, going back to school, or starting your business while keeping your full-time job are good, concrete steps that move you closer to seeing your dreams come true.
Are you contemplating a major life change? What is one step that you can take today that will bring you closer to making a good decision?
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David and Annie Spell are living in Curitiba, Brazil working with C3 Churches there. They are the parents to two amazing daughters, Sarah Shackleford and Rachel Hanna. David is a retired police officer from the Atlanta, Georgia, area and holds a Ph.D in Theology. You can subscribe to his blog here. Follow him on Twitter and connect on Facebook.