Updated: Apr 5
“I felt as though I did everything I could do; I came to the place I lacked creativity for the church and the location I was leading.”
“I lost energy for new activities; I saw life only from the perspective of my age and experience.”
“I was happy to do the work of the position, but I felt as though I was putting my head down and plowing through the daily aspects of ministry. Eventually it became harder more tiring and I had little desire to start new projects for the church—and certainly not enough of a desire to finish them.”
“For years I had been in every corner of the church, managed the calendar of activities and planned for every outreach, service and holiday, but I felt as though I could not even muster up enough of my own energy to do it yet again, much less anyone else. I loved the people of the congregation, but I sensed my time as pastor was ending. I leaned on the Lord in the past, and saw Him move in my weakness, but this was different.”
Do these statements resonate with you? We as leaders often have seasons of discouragement and weariness throughout our time in ministry; that’s certainly normal. But, there comes a unique time and space we find ourselves which can be uncomfortable to discuss; that being when we are done with our pastoral role in the church.
For some, it can be a difficult statement to read or hear. Shouldn’t I be doing this until the Lord takes me home? What if I don’t want to retire? What if you are not at the age or have the financial means to just quit and live your life without a steady paycheck? What if you don’t know what the next step would be or even know what else you can do? These are all very common questions and ones not to take lightly.
The quotes above are from real ministers representing different positions, ages, life stages and financial means. They all represent differing backgrounds and stories and yet there were surprising threads of commonality that were found in each story. And even though what these quotes share is an overall sense of tiredness and readiness for change, it is not the only condition for ending a season.
One very common thread not directly quoted in the statements above and a critical key component in this time of change: God’s instruction or confirmation to this ending. Whether it is the confirming inspiration of a scripture, a personal directive of change from the Lord, or a God-directed change of specific circumstances reflecting His purpose and the need for a change; the end is not the end. It represents one season transitioning to another season. A new beginning that sometimes we can delay or ignore because we cannot see the whole picture or we decide to “push through” and make things work.
What can you do if you see some similarities with yourself and some of these perspectives?
· Assess yourself—are you tired, no longer having vision after times of rest or renewal? Do you feel you have done all you were called to do and God may be leading you somewhere else?
· Pray and seek after God’s heart for you—take time (as long as necessary) to bring your thoughts to Him and allow for Him to lead you to scriptures, directives and confirmation showing you whether this season is ending or not. These promises and confirmations are often the encouragement you need when you make the change. You want to know that God is leading this season of completion and that you are not escaping something difficult or wearisome.
· Allow for God to unfold things over time—each of these stories reflect different timelines. Some months and some years between the time when the need for change is initiated and when the change is complete. When we know change will come, we tend to prepare for it. You may find yourself thinking about your leadership, deciding how to transition certain things to certain people, and preparing yourself for what is next. One pastor even mentioned that he realized he could go on in ministry for a number of years, but his choice to transition out was for the betterment of the church to grow.
These topics can be confusing to discern, but as you stay consistent and present with the Lord in this season, He will direct your steps. One thing is for sure: change is difficult, and endings can be even more difficult to live out. Whether you may be moving on to another ministry assignment or into a whole new kind of direction or retirement, be encouraged that the Lord will lead you step by step as you trust Him with your future.
This is the first 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
Leading through change can be a drain on our emotions, energy and resources.
Often it can be very helpful to have a perspective from those who have led teams through many different experiences. We at UCentric Solutions, LLC would love to see how we can help you! Click here to set up a conversation with Craig to explore how we can support you.