I recently resigned my position as East Campus Pastor at Biltmore Baptist Church to become the Lead Pastor at Apex Baptist Church. This decision was not made lightly because we really enjoyed the leadership God had us under and the ministry that he had entrusted to us.
So when it became obvious that God was calling my family to Apex, I desperately wanted to figure out how to leave from the church staff at Biltmore well. I am not saying I got it all right, but I wanted to offer a couple tips that I learned along the way.
First, Know your Leader. When you work with someone day in and day out, you should learn how he responds to different situations. You should know if you leader can handle walking through the process with you or if he will take it personally and cut you out of the loop as you walk the process. When you are considering bringing your leader in on the process, realize that timing is everything. If he is having a rough day, rushing out the door to an important meeting, or just ready to go home, it is better to wait. I went to talk to Pastor Bruce three different times before I brought it up. It took about a week of trying to talk with him about it to find the right time. When I did it was a good conversation. Pastor was very gracious and kind. I realize that I was lucky enough to work for a very secure leader. This was very important to the situation. He wanted to see me succeed. He is a mentor to me and I was able to bring him in on the process early. God used Pastor Bruce tremendously in my life as I walked this journey.
Second, Keep it Confidential. You will be tempted to tell your closest friends and co-workers, but it is unnecessary. No one except your leader needs to know. Keep him in the loop and let him decide when to bring other people into the conversation. He’s the leader. He will still be serving the church after you leave. Let him release the information in the manner and timing that he desires. Recognition for your work will come if it comes. Its not about you leaving, but its about the ministry of the church continuing and the gospel advancing.
Third, Work Hard. You will be tempted to coast. You will be tempted to pack it in and wait for the time to pass. That is the last thing you should do. It is not wise to make plans for the ministry you lead after you are gone, but you can still develop people. Literally, work yourself out of a job. Cover every thing you do. Work to make the ministry function without you until a new leader can come replace you. As you come down the home stretch to announcing your resignation, make sure people see others where they normally see you. It is not that you are not there, but other staff members are there with you. The hard work when leaving a ministry position is making certain you develop others around you so that your are not missed. Don’t pack your office before your last day or during office hours. WORK HARD UNTIL THE END.
Fourth, Be a Unifier. Focus on unity. This is not your opportunity to tell your leader everything that is done wrong at the church. This is an opportunity to encourage and empower others who must continue to carry the baton long after your leave. This goes for staff and lay people. It is easy to get caught up with all the things that are not perfect at the church… Well, there is no perfect church. Keep your mouth shut and work to strengthen the unity of the body as you leave.
Again, I am certain I did not get it all right, but these are some priorities that I maintained as I stepped aside at Biltmore. Hopefully they are helpful to you…