(This is the second in a series of four posts).
In the last post, I unpacked something that I tend to say over and over to those going through a ministry change: Don’t make a 5 to 10-year decision based on a five-month need.
The second thing that I often repeat to those in a difficult season of ministry thinking about a change is:
2. “You gotta finish well.”
Your last 4 to 7 months in your current staff role should be your best ever! Leave on an upward trajectory. Bless don’t curse. Turn up the awesome. This is especially true if you are younger than 30. It’s really hard to outrun a bad reference early in your ministry career.
I’ll never forget sitting with a discouraged youth pastor who was in conflict with his Senior Pastor. He was a good guy. They were BOTH good guys! He’d had a great decade of ministry. I told him, “Listen, if it’s not going to work out here, that’s ok…but whatever you do, don’t stay too long, get bitter, and get fired.”
Eighteen months later that’s exactly what happened! A youth group was blown apart, a lot of collateral damage was done, and another talented church leader was entering the marketplace to start over. Meanwhile, I have many pastors asking me if I know of a good youth pastor…
Here are a few thoughts for you for your next 6 months:
- Get extra sleep.
- Choose 5 leadership books to hone your leadership skills.
- Exercise more.
- Enter into a deeper discipleship community than you’ve been in recently where someone is mentoring you.
- Hire a ministry coach.
- Tell your spouse you need him/her to call you out for talking trash about your current church or senior pastor (or boss).
- Turn down the noise. Watch less NETFLIX. Throw away your Xbox. Have more quiet, more centered prayer, and listen intently to the Spirit’s quiet voice.
Do all of this while working a good process heading towards your exit. You’ll leave your current ministry with everyone thinking, “I wish he/she was staying!”