What Happens When You Have To Step Back

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And Mr. Jones will be stepping down as our CEO….

Mrs. Black has decided to step back from her role as the women’s ministry leader…

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we’re requesting that Ms. Lake take a step back from her current duties…

We’ve all been there. The promotion was given to someone else and the temporary management position is no longer temporary. It’s filled- and not in the way we wished for.

That letter of dashed hope arrived in the mail- “While you have many qualifications suited to the position, we have filled the position with a higher-qualified candidate.” Gulp.

What happens when you have to step back?

Back to the role of the common.

Back to the duties you had hoped to relinquish.

Back to the everyday after a vacation.

As a little girl, I grew up with heavy West Virginia winter snow. Occasionally I remember riding with my dad or my brother in the snow and we would get “stuck.” Meaning the snow would be too deep and we’d stay in one place with the tires spinning. My dad would say “Let’s put it in reverse.” And strangely enough, after we’d back up just a few feet, those tires would move right out of that snow and shortly we’d be on our way again.

We had to back up so we could continue moving forward.

The word “reverse” carries a connotation that none of us appreciate. It does, after all, mean that you are going backwards.

Who wants to traverse territory just covered?

Who wants to look back once you’ve embarked on a journey?

Who wants to step back from any potentially higher opportunity?

You’ve heard slow progression described as “two steps forward, three steps back” and perhaps you have even rolled your eyes with the description because you felt the pain of the person discussing the weary pace of the journey.

But I’m venturing out to say that stepping back is actually forward movement.

“Reverse” isn’t always a negative word.

The first step forward is often taking a step back.


Without taking a step back, no more steps forward can be taken.

Reverse is a temporary solution to keep us on the forward path.

So the next time you feel like you’re going three steps forward, two steps back….

or you receive that denial letter…

or you listen to the voicemail that it’s a “no go.”

Then remember that reverse is actually forward progress.

God has something else around the bend…

He’s just asking you to step back so you can look ahead to His plan.

I’d love to read your opinion on this topic.

Have you experienced how stepping back is actually stepping forward?




  1. I think stepping back allows us to gain a new perspective on things. If we are too close, things can get blurred together. Sometimes, I think God calls us back to begin to see things from His view and not with our earthly view. Sometimes, we just need to stop where we are, look around, and see if this is actually where God wants us. His path and His way is always the best, but its not always the way we choose.

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Three and a half years ago, I was feeling frantic, praying intensely concerning a heartbreaking and scary situation with my daughter and at that time my grandson just begging the Lord to not let my daughter go backwards from all the progress she had made. This was not only for her, but also for her son’s welfare. The Lord clearly responded to me that this was not moving backward, but moving forward because this was part of His plan. I was immediately filled with peace because I knew this was true.

    This was perfect timing as a reminder concerning a situation that has come up today. Thank you Rachel, truly God timed.



  3. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For me I know God has a purpose it felt like I have taken steps backwards, but then I go back to God and ask if I am actually making progress, and he says rest, trust and believe. Just like Paul I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

  4. I love your “forward” thinking when the motion is actually stepping back. This past year I stepped back into a position that I was given no choice to step into. The immediate feelings of rejection and “not good enough” clouded my mind. However, our God is a good God and he taught me his amazing love, grace and strength were all I needed. My story could have turned out to be one of bitterness and resentment but instead it has led me home. I am happier, more at peace and am living the passion for what I do that had been missing for over five years. You see I am a teacher and a teacher needs to interact with children daily and a teacher needs to be in the classroom but my other job took me to a higher level away from the students. Teaching has brought me home and God knew what I didn’t recognize in myself. Sometimes when a change occurs because of someone else’s choice it is God’s way of saying “I got you covered girl”. Stepping back has never felt so good and watching all that God has done has moved me forward into a closer relationship with him.

    Rachel-thank you for your words today and for the chance to share.

  5. I read this with my jaw on the floor. Surprised to be reading what I was reading. Tear didn’t come, because I quite possibly have shed them all. Ha. My hubby was asked to resign from his job at our church a few weeks ago. Unexpected to us and based on misjudgment, lies, etc. So heartbreaking. I think you wrote this for me…looking today at our journey as forward progress. Thank you Rachel.

    1. So sorry to hear of your “reversed” journey. Prayers going up, dear Jessica!!

  6. I, too, had often rolled my eyes at the whole “one step forward, two steps back” analogy until it was presented to me in a new light at a women’s retreat several years ago. The speaker related setbacks, disappointments, and “reverses” to an arrow being drawn backwards in the bow before being released to shoot forward. We must allow ourselves to be drawn backwards at times so that we have the strength, momentum, and focus to propel forward to reach our target. I saw a graphic on pinterest today that I think helps in the times of being put in reverse: “Until God opens the next door for you, praise Him in the hallway.”

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