How To Avoid "Transplant Shock" In Ministry
I don’t know much about plants (side note: I may have killed a succulent, which apparently, is the easiest thing to keep alive), but I was reading up about “transplant shock” and found it surprisingly relatable to how we sometimes react to a change in environment or circumstance. One piece I read noted that, “transplant shock” isn’t necessarily the result of damaging the plant when moving it from one place to the other. Rather, it’s a direct result of a plant not being able to adapt fast enough to a sudden change of environment.
Relocating, like change, is an inevitable part of life, especially for those in ministry. The whole process of moving, from discerning when to leave to supporting your family throughout the transition, is a lot to handle, but that’s only half of the battle.
Thankfully, while we may not have much control over when and how quickly we have to move, we can control how we choose to adapt to our new home. Here are a few points on how to avoid “transplant shock”:
1. Picture your life in your new neighborhood.
Sometimes the hardest part of moving is leaving familiarity. After building relationships with your neighbors and finding your favorite dessert spot in the area, the thought of having to start all over from scratch can be discouraging. But, thanks to Google and Yelp, you can already start discovering potential new favorite spots before your move.
Looking up things to do and places to see in your new home can definitely make for a smoother transition because the more you learn about the area, the more that strange, new neighborhood starts feeling like home. Plan ahead by envisioning your life in your town.
2. Explore your new home.
I don’t know about you, but some of my favorite spots are places I have randomly stumbled upon. You will never know what gems exist right around the block unless you take time to explore. Not only does this provide a much-needed break from the madness of unpacking, but it also helps you get a sense of where everything is located in your new neighborhood.
3. Establish new roots.
When you move to a new location, the benefits of establishing a community are two-fold. First, it will play a huge role in helping you settle as you start forming and building relationships. The more community you build, the more your new place will start feeling like home.
Second, no matter what ministry you serve in, we as Christians are all called to love on our neighbors. Especially on the local church level, getting to know the people around you is not only helpful, but the churches, and consequently, Christians, exist to serve the communities we’re planted in. It might force some of us introverts outside of our comfort zones, but we cannot serve a community we have not taken the time to know.
4. Maintain core connections.
Remember that old song, “Make new friends, but keep the old…”? It’s important to identify and make time for those people in your life who fill your tank, especially as you go through a transition to a new home and community. As much as Jesus traveled, He always had his core group of disciples with Him, and so should we.
As important as it is to explore, embrace, and establish your new home, it may take time. In those early stages of figuring out where everything is and turning awkward conversations into deep discussions, it is priceless to have your core group to fall back on. These people can provide a sense of familiarity and consistency amidst all the newness of transitioning.
5. Allow time to adapt.
Just like plants, we need time to grow especially after being uprooted and transplanted. There’s already a lot to worry about without adding the unnecessary expectations we sometimes place on ourselves. It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, constantly comparing your new home and work situation to the previous one and wondering why it’s not the same. Once you have taken the time to prepare and do what you can to establish new roots, all you need to do is add a little water and give yourself, your family, and your new community time to grow.
What are some lessons you've learned through relocating?