When It's Time To Say Goodbye

Passing the baton is a difficult thing to do.
Passing the baton is a difficult thing to do. (iStock photo )

Yesterday morning, for the first time in almost 10 years, I woke up without sheep to lead.

God called me to lead the Charisma Media Group and, by necessity, I had to resign my pastorate. As I told the church, I never anticipated leaving the pulpit. I never wanted to leave the church even one day during my time with them.

But God.

I'm thankful for the leading of the Holy Spirit and thankful to be assigned to Charisma Media for the remaining years of my career.

I'm also thankful for a Spirit-led transition at our church.

Man often gets in the way of transitions. Issues, preferences and opinions muddy up clear waters. When God called a wonderful couple to be the new leaders of our church, God showed me they would lead even before He showed them. I knew in my spirit who God would set in place for the next season of our church.

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The amoeba cell of transition is to know that God will sustain His work. The work was never mine. It was kingdom work, and God always provided. There was never lack.

When people began to talk about church matters in future tense, I naturally began to shake a bit. It wasn't easy to hear about changes that would be made and new buildings and new energy for growth. The flesh hurt. But in my spirit, I couldn't have been more excited to know that our people saw that the work would continue and all would be well.

Many of you have led transitions, many times. This was my first. I'm not sure I led the transition as much as I just stayed out of the way and let the Holy Spirit lead all of us. But I offer a few take-aways from the experience:

1. I needed the voice of God more than ever. My personal time with Him prepared me for what was to come. Leaders of transition must pray fervently for peace to prevail.

2. Journal. I wrote often about what I was feeling. In my prayer and writing time, God was clearly present and comforting.  

3. Don't bring the transition into the pulpit. We did the best we could to invite the presence of the Lord into every service. I remained mindful that our people attended church to worship and experience the presence of the Lord. Man shouldn't hinder worship with table matters.

4. Hold relationships close. The keys to the kingdom begin with relationships. Many of us spoke very clearly about what we meant to each other. We spoke about how life had changed when Jesus came into our lives. We only spoke words of life. During the entire transition, we protected each other with our words.

5. Let go. Thankfully, I was given a great couple to continue the work of the church. The best gift I could give them was to love them, encourage them and stay out of their way. I have complete confidence in their call and their potential as spiritual leaders. They have made it easy for me to let go.

Someone told me along the way that if it didn't hurt to leave, I probably wasn't much of a pastor. I don't know if that is the metric that matters most, but it rings true in my heart.  

I notice now that my prayers still include many people from my church. I hope I never transition away from remembering always to pray for those I have loved so dearly.

Paul gave us a great example for continuing to pray for churches he established.

To God be the glory, great things He has done and will do.

"I thank my God for every reminder of you. In every prayer of mine for you all, I have always made requests with joy, due to your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ. ... For God is my witness, how I long after you all with the affection of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:3-6, 8).

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, here.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.

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