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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Transition, getting traction and moving forward

by Nelson Roth
Whether by ice, snow, or mud, we’re all familiar with the helpless feeling of spinning the tires on our car and not getting anywhere.  Traction makes all the difference.  Before living in the South, a winter habit I learned from my dad was to put sacks of sand in the trunk of my car.  Two purposes were served.  First, the sacks of sand added weight over the rear tires; and if I got stuck in a Midwestern winter storm, I could dump the sand in the tire tracks of my car for needed traction.

Personal or organizational transitions most often provide opportunities into a new and exciting future; however, there is often that time when it feels like we’re just spinning our tires.  At this point, we need traction - the help of someone or something like those sacks of sand.

I learned transition lessons from our experiences following Hurricane Katrina.  Rebuilding and revitalization were our greatest needs on the Coast of Mississippi following that catastrophic event.  A help for me, and the people that I was serving with at the time, was a study about the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall 2,500 years ago.  The servant-leader, Nehemiah, and the principles he used fit our situation and became known as a Nehemiah Response in the book I wrote.

Transitions happen either after a surprise in life - like a crisis event - or when someone delivers unexpected news.  Transitions can also happen when we sense God leading in something new.  

Is God revealing to you a vision for something new?  Is there something stirring in your heart and you are needing clarity and the next steps?  Are you in the midst of a crisis and struggling with what seems to be bad timing and you need to know what to do next?

A helpful coaching tool we use is called The Nehemiah Response Model™.  It is a biblical transition process for revitalization that can help with traction and serve as those sacks of sand.  The model captures ten responses of Nehemiah that are grouped in four stages - incubation, implementation, celebration, and transformation.  When you find yourself stuck these responses can help you get from where you are (present situation) to where you want to go (preferred future).

If you are in a transition, your situation may not be a hurricane, like what I went through back in August of 2005; but nonetheless, your situation is a Katrina of sorts and these responses can be transferred to your present situation.

  • Are you needing traction to move into the future and new opportunity?
  • Does your present situation seem like an end?  What if it was really a new beginning?
Give us a call if you’d like to talk about The Nehemiah Response Model™ and your present situation.  You, your church, or your organization can get beyond that helpless feeling of spinning your tires.

If you’ve learned some life lessons in a past transition, we’d like to hear from you!  How have you gotten traction in the past to move forward?  What have you learned from a transition time in your life?  Leave a comment below.

The Nehemiah Response Model™ is a biblical transition process that will help you get traction for revitalization and moving from your present situation to your preferred future. Each month we are writing about the ten responses in the Relevant Ministry Blog - check out the Blog Archive in the right hand column.  There are four responses each in the Incubation and Implementation Stages of the clockwise circle.  Response number nine is Celebration, and Transformation is number ten.

Feel free to leave a comment below.
Click Relevant Ministry Coaching for more information about coaching.


  1. Nelson and Pam have captured the essence of what is needed to move out of difficult problem spaces. We all have them, big and small, and it's important to get the traction needed to move forward versus getting stuck. The Nehemiah Response Model is a great approach to problem solving and the Roths are great resources for implementing it. They've been there.

    J. Michael Godfrey, DMin, PhD, ACC
    Lead Mentor, Coach, Consultant at True Course

  2. Great post, Nelson! You capture the concept of transition very well! Also, the NR model is helpful for those who prefer to see the transition path, and not just think about it.

  3. Nelson, reading this article and seeing the picture that you chose to go along with it affirms... we need the right people involved in our situation to gain traction and move forward. We can try and do it alone, but will most often continue to spin out of control.

  4. Nelson Roth has put this thumb on the key ingredient in church change, the ability to see that you need assistance to change a church and that it is a cyclical process. In his Nehemiah Response Model he shows churches how to meet the needs of those around it, while transforming the church into a place of help, reconciliation and spiritual transformation. I have been personally blessed by Nelson's insights and compassion, and I recommend his ministry as a timely refocusing of the Body of Christ back to meeting human needs that will lead to spiritual transformation.


  5. Nelson's Nehemiah Response Model is a 'how to' biblical transition process. The model, integrated with social and behavioral sciences, fits well with the Transtheoretical Model which proposes how we change. What I like about the Nehemiah Response Model is that it goes beyond behavior change to transformation.

    Jamie D. Aten, PhD.
    Rech Endowed Chair & Associate Professor
    Co-Director, Humanitarian Disaster Institute
    Department of Psychology
    Wheaton College


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