Garris Elkins’ fourth book: ‘A Good Place: Walking with Hope through the Transitions of Life and Ministry’ reminds me less of a book on leadership and more of a spiritual and devotional tool one would thoughtfully go through if they were facing significant change or transition in life. Or better yet, think if you had an opportunity to sit down in a coffee shop with the writer and pull out of him all the things he’s learned so far as he now approaches the completion of his own ministry transition. If you can imagine this, then you’ve got a feel for what you’ll experience reading ‘A Good Place.’
In his dedication, Garris says: “I dedicate this book to those of you who are in the midst of a life transition. This will be a journey of the heart. Everyone eventually arrives at the end of a transition, but not everyone finishes well. The purpose of these pages is to help you end your transition with your heart still tender toward God and toward those with whom you have traveled.”
I found this to be a perfect description of what I had read. This short book covers 60 subjects, each one followed by a prayer. I have to admit that I enjoyed the prayers as much as I did the comments that preceded them.
The one problem with the book, as I see it, is that it is designed to be chewed on slowly like you would a chocolate truffle. You could easily take one chapter a day. This would probably be the best way to use this book except for the fact that the book is so good I can’t imagine anyone being that patient. Still…if you are facing transition try hard to limit your reading to two or three chapters at a time and don’t neglect the prayers at the end. The prayers really are powerful.
Here are some of the quotes that meant a lot to me:
‘Life is a collection of journeys, not just a single trip.’
What follows is Garris’ thoughts on how to make important decisions when you have many options. He speaks about the test of peace. “Over the years, this test of peace has never failed me. The test lines up all the available options and asks a simple question: which of these opportunities carries the peace of God?”
“The longer we do life and ministry, the easier it becomes for us to operate in our own strength. The longer we do life and ministry, the easier it becomes we develop new skill sets. We get good at what we do. Subtly, we can begin to exchange the power of God for human ability. This becomes especially dangerous when we are transitioning into a new season and crossing into unexplored territory.”
Your life has made a deposit and left an impact. In this life, you will not be able to fully define your influence. Eternity will reveal the significance of what you left behind.
“Some answers only come in times of separation.”
“Look again at your schedule. Make room for time away with God so he can make those subtle adjustments with you when he has your undivided attention.”
I’ve had the privilege of playing a small part in Garris’ own transition from senior leader of a church he’s had a long and fruitful ministry at. For Garris, the finish line is in sight except that as he gets closer he will see it doesn’t say “Finish Line”, it says, “Beginning Line.” If you need help and hope as you transition from from one stage of life or ministry, if you want to journey into your own ‘beginning’, get A Good Place today.