Today wraps up our series on Necessary Endings, inspired by the book of the same name by Henry Cloud. So far, we’ve talked about processes that need to end, and people who need to be transitioned off the team. Today, we’ll talk about what might be the hardest ending of all—when you realize you need to end your time in your current role.
Sometime in the winter of 2011-2012, God told me that my time at Coast Hills was going to come to an end in the spring of 2014. Now, it wasn’t an audible voice, but I remember like it was yesterday the day, time and place I knew that. I had been struggling that season, and was contemplating what was next for me anyway. So in a way it was comforting to know there was an end, but frustrating that it was two and a half years away. Those were a tough two and a half years for me. They were also a great two and a half years.
I didn’t realize until later that it would have been really unhealthy for me to stay there past my end “date.” At the same time, we had some great times, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. But, when it was time to move on, it was time to move on.
I left the church staff and moved into the integration world, where I still work today, albeit at a different company. This is a path many of my peers have also taken. But I’ve also seen guys stay in a situation they shouldn’t, and have seen the negative effects of it. I’ve counseled people to leave their position, but they couldn’t bring themselves to do it. Months later, the whole situation blows up and they are usually in a really hard spot.
One of the greatest gifts God gave me was the foreknowledge that I would be leaving. I think He did that because normally, I have a very high tolerance for pain, and tend to stick out difficult situations because I said I would. But what we miss when we do that is all the negative side-effects. It breaks my heart when I see guys stay in a situation too long then get blown up and find themselves out on the street with no plan.
If you are in a situation that needs to end, end it. Start making a plan to end your current employment and start something new. How you do that will depend on your specific situation. But if you know your time is done at your current gig, head out. While we as technical leaders tend to develop a little bit of a messiah complex (“If I leave, this place will fall apart!”), you are doing more harm than good by staying there. You’re harming yourself and keeping the church from moving on.
This is a hard saying, to quote the Apostle Paul, but it’s the truth. I’m not going to try to come up with a ton of examples for this, because if you need to leave, you know it. You simply have to act on it. Yes, it takes courage, and more importantly, faith. But I promise you that nothing good comes from overstaying your call to a place. I’ve seen pastors do it as well, so it’s not just us. And the consequences are even more dire.
Depending in your relationship with your boss, you may or may not want to tell him of your plans to begin to exit. Don’t leave anyone hanging, but don’t get yourself fired before you have something else lined up either. Again, I think those of you who know it’s time to go know what you need to do, you just need permission to do it.
We all go through seasons, and it’s perfectly normal to end a job and start another. Most of us will serve at several churches over our TD career, and if we do it well, everyone wins. But no one wins when we drag it out.
I really do encourage you to read this book, Necessary Endings. It’s one of the better books I’ve read in a while on this subject. We all have endings and beginnings in our lives, and this book helps you navigate them. It’s even been helpful in my family life, as we’ve had to navigate some life changes and relationship status changes. And the cool thing is, we’re seeing some very positive results. Endings usually precede beginnings, but you can’t get to the next thing if you’re stuck in the present thing. If you need permission to move on, consider this your go-ahead. Greater things are coming!