Communicating Your Exit With Others

How Do I Process This Next Step?

In our first post in this series, we considered the initial process of determining when it is time to step away from active ministry. You are settled in the decision. It is right. The next stage in the process revolves around communication and where things start to get real. Who do you tell? How much do you tell? One part of you wants to tell the whole world that you finally have come to a place of decision of clarity. Finally! However, the other side of you may fear telling others because of the potential fallout involved in change; the reactions and disappointment of letting people down. Another consideration is determining how long to wait to tell others in the church, knowing your significant life change is vulnerable to gossip and untruth of those who cannot keep your confidence and who may not understand your own journey to this place.

“It was always a little difficult to know how and when to discuss my realization and decision for change. I processed with my spouse and leaders and close friends who were involved in the church. I also needed a listening ear and wisdom from a voice or two who were not involved in my congregation. I feared sharing too soon as I knew the narrative would be out of my control and I would have to be ready for that. However, once I spoke about my change to those in leadership, I gradually felt free from the fear and began to embrace the excitement and tension of change and God’s leading.”

“I felt as though I obsessed about my decision. I spoke with ministry colleagues in other areas. I informed my District Supervisor of churches. I didn’t want to disappoint God. I saw other pastors who stayed too long, mostly for financial reasons. I struggled until I had a release and reassurance from the Lord. I recommend the consideration of a life coach, or someone who was not directly involved in the local congregation involved in the process.”

“Discussion was initially only with my spouse, then it was a matter of processing the initial emotions. But once the feelings of the reality of change began to take place, I felt the shift from feeling to planning. For me it was more defined as I processed it with others.”

“Firstly, I spoke with my church governing leadership. In my case it was a District Supervisor, then I spoke to my elders and staff; then over time to other key leaders. There were times that I knew to be quiet, and I needed to gain an awareness of the proper times for this.”

As every leader leads differently, so each leader processes change and the execution of that change differently. Some process things slowly with caution and much time is involved, and for others decisions are quick as is the execution. And many fall somewhere in between! So how you handle the end of a season may require some special attention.

If you process things slowly and are not quick to change, consider the following:

· Take the time you need to process your change and plan your steps.

· Draw close to those who know you well as support, if possible. Be sure to have one or two who abound in patience with you as this will take time.

· Consider another resource outside of your ministry environment with relevant experience to help. If you tend to make changes slowly, you may often lean into overthinking things and take too many things into consideration; grinding the process to a halt. “Analysis paralysis” is a phrase used for this lack of movement due to overthinking. An experienced, outside perspective can help address this situation and provide helpful guidance as you move forward. A counselor, advisor, coach or consultant experienced in these situations can be extremely beneficial since their independence from decision’s impact allows them greater emotional clarity,

On the flip side, if you are quick to make decisions, you should consider:

· Opening up with others on your decision. Sometimes quick decision makers know what needs to happen and move forward, while those around them are in the dark. This leads to great confusion, hurt and ill will; particularly with a situation such as leadership change.

· Pace yourself with the changes ahead. There will be a need to plan and include a select few in this process. This may not come naturally for you, but it is a necessary step to ensure you carefully minimize the trauma of leaving for your staff and congregation.

· Your change as a leader is not just your own; there are repercussions that will continue for others when you step away. Your congregation (and staff) must process the loss of a leader and the uncertainties of a new leader. stepping in. Keep the staff and congregation in the front of your mind as you move forward.

Wherever you are in this process, this step takes a large measure of vulnerability and bravery. You are beginning the official process of letting go and bringing others into this change. Change is never easy, and you are not responsible for how others react to your change. Give room to yourself and others to handle things well and make mistakes. Most likely you or those around you have not been in a situation like this. As you continue on, you will gain greater insight and clarity and you will begin to see this process of stepping away from the ministry unfold before your eyes!

This is the second of a four-part series on transition when you know that your ministry role is ending and insight regarding the practical steps that follow this kind of decision. This series is a compilation of discussions regarding change with Pastors Loren Houltberg, Blaine Herron, and Deb Herron and their experience of transitions in ministry. If you would like to read more blogs from UCentric Solutions LLC click this link Blog | UCentric Solutions

Also, we at Church Solutions are here for you at any process of your transition. If you would be interested in how we can partner with you, set up a free appointment with Craig by clicking here

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