Today’s post is the last leg of our journey through Putting the Good in Goodbye. We trust that we’ve offered you some tools to navigate those seasons when you become acutely aware pastoring is not for the faint of heart.
We understand the weight of responsibility a pastor feels is constant. It has never been a 9-5 job—caring for the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of people can feel 24/7 at times. At Converge Coaching, we receive phone calls and messages every week from pastors who believe that leading men and women in their walks with God is ultimately worth it, but at the same time feel the pain and heartache of the comings and goings of those very same people. At times the stress of people departing feels almost more than pastors can bear.
As we’ve spent the last several weeks discussing, in order to put the good in goodbye, it’s important to implement these five behaviors:
- Renew your sense of calling.
- Put God’s people in their proper place: They belong to Him, not you.
- The timeframe for those you pastor is often seasonal. Focus on your responsibility to steward well the time you do have to shepherd them.
- Be gracious and bless them if and when they decide to depart.
- For those departees who at some point decide to return, welcome them back (unless they’re toxic), but allow time for trust to be restored between you and them.
Church life seems more complex than ever before. If we lack intentionality, it can seem impossible to “punch out.” The advent of email, text, and social media create more accessibility than is healthy. Going off the grid feels more challenging than ever.
In addition, society gets more dysfunctional every week. The culture around us is changing faster than ever. All that to say, pastoring, while an amazing privilege, is difficult work.
Yet our view is one of hope. God is not wringing His hands in despair. He still has a great game plan for your church in this generation; and He’s willing to share it if you pause long enough to listen to Him and stay long enough to implement what He says.
Still . . . with all the above in mind . . . you may be wrestling with whether it’s time to leave or whether you need to stay at your post. If so, before you decide to leave:
- First ask God: “Have I learned in this assignment what You wanted me to learn?” Be sure to obtain a clear answer. If the answer is “no,” yet you are still struggling with the temptation to leave . . .
- Be sure to share your decision-making process with a mentor, coach, or friend. Having someone to bounce ideas off is helpful in processing difficult emotions associated with stay or go decisions. We aren’t meant to make career-altering choices in isolation. God designed us for community, but the pastoral role possesses this invisible undertow toward flying solo. Making the decision to stay or leave can leave you feeling even more isolated.
- Pay close attention to your emotional health. Are you healthy enough to make a good decision? Figure out what fills your mental and emotional tank. Perhaps scheduling regular times of rest, exercise, replenishing relationships, and even laughter will help you clear your mind.
All of us here at Converge Coaching deeply respect what you do for the Kingdom. We want you to thrive in your personal life and in your calling—and do so for the long haul—while having incredible amounts of fun at the same time.
Our prayer for you is this: To finish the work God sent you to accomplish by His grace and power, and to hear at the end of your time on earth, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).
We are rooting and praying for you!
John & Jaime