Hinge Moments: A Conversation with D. Michael Lindsay

D Michael Lindsay background

Hinge Moments. Whether you’ve been preparing for one for a long time or whether one takes you by surprise, they can be scary to navigate and difficult to get through. University president and sociologist D. Michael Lindsay guides readers through the stages of a hinge moment, teaching us how to embrace and flourish amid change. Listen in as he talks with Life is Story editor Josh Olds about various hinge moments and navigating change in this episode of Beyond the Page.

The Interview | D. Michael Lindsay

This excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity and content.

Josh Olds: I guess we should begin with the title. What is a hinge moment?

D. Michael Lindsay: The average American has 37 million minutes of life. But as we look at life, each of us can probably identify two dozen minutes that had a disproportionate impact on the rest of our time. Whether it’s the minute that we’re born, the minute we meet our spouse, the minute we land our dream job, the minute we have a real tragedy in our family life—all of these become very important inflection points in our life. And if we handle them well, they can be tremendous catalysts for good. But if we don’t handle them well, they can also lead to downward spiral. Hinge moments are those precious few minutes that we’re given and the opportunities to be able to make a positive impact with our lives, and for God to use them as significant milestones for greater good.

Each of us can probably identify two dozen minutes that had a disproportionate impact on the rest of our time. – D. Michael Lindsay

Josh Olds: In the book, you subdivide hinge moments into different stages. Can you take us through that?

D. Michael Lindsay: Yeah, basically, as I was writing the book, it occurred to me change is something that happens to us instantaneously but transition is something that happens to us over a longer period of time—sometimes, weeks, months, or even years. Transition is how we make sense of the change that is occurring. And even before we know it, we can look back and see little signposts of ways that maybe our spirits were getting ready for that particular change.

I found that to be true in my own life. There are moments of both discernment and anticipation, which are the first two phases of transition, where you begin to sort of sense maybe I’m feeling a sense of restlessness in this particular job that I’m in, or a sense of hope or anticipation for something new, whether it’s getting pregnant and having your first child or moving to a new community.

Change is something that happens to us instantaneously but transition is something that happens to us over a longer period of time…transition is how we make sense of the change that is occurring. – D. Michael Lindsay

And then we sort of experience the moment of transition, which I call the intersection phase, which oftentimes can be the hardest. It’s when you’re really struggling with issues and trying to make sense of all the change that’s happened in your life. You’re also oftentimes least supported in those moments, because you’re leaving one place, moving to another, but you haven’t yet landed completely. Then eventually you get into the new community, and you start to become integrated into that community and you develop friends. And then you start to begin to be a source of inspiration for other people, where not only have you made it through your transition, but now you’re sort of helping people who may be further down on the journey themselves.

Eventually, we begin to sort of realize how all of this change that happened to us, has actually been part of our own sort of development, growth, and maturing. And those seven phases walk you through sort of the process that oftentimes the Lord can use to help shape us into better people.

The Book | Hinge Moments

Hinge Moments D Michael LindsayIn life we have moments in time in which we have an opportunity before us to make a change or to respond to a situation. According to Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College, what follows these instances will depend intrinsically on the decisions we make and the actions we take. These are what he calls “hinge moments”―opportunities to open (or close) doors to various pathways of our lives. Lindsay maintains that getting these moments right can change our lives for the better, and getting them wrong can pose problems for years to come: “Some transitions have a disproportionate impact on our happiness, our contribution to society, and our family’s well-being.” In these pages Lindsay shares faith-based stories of success and failure from his ten-year study of 550 PLATINUM leaders. He has charted seven phases of transition, providing both practical and spiritual insights for making the most of each stage. In uncertain and tumultuous times, there is no better advantage than wisdom gained early.

The Author | D. Michael Lindsay

D. Michael Lindsay is president of Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. He previously served as president of Gordon College, in Wenham, Massachusetts. Earlier in his career Lindsay was a member of the sociology faculty at Rice University, where he won multiple awards for both his teaching and scholarly research.

Lindsay’s Faith in the Halls of Power was nominated for the nonfiction Pulitzer Prize in 2007. His book View from the Top won two awards and has been translated into Chinese and Japanese. Lindsay has lectured on six continents and works tirelessly to create opportunities worldwide for students, faculty, and staff.

Lindsay earned his PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has graduate theological degrees from Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University and Princeton Theological Seminary. He has been married for over twenty-five years to Rebecca, and they are the proud parents of three daughters.