I never thought I would leave my last church. Seriously, I thought I’d never retire. But, God had different plans and after a decade plus of ministry I was gone.
The transition out wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped, but I was fortunate that my team could carry the burden until my replacement was hired.
Now, in my second church I’m already thinking, “Who’s next?”
While I can’t answer that question now, it’s a task constantly on the front burner. It’s there not because I have plans to leave, but I want to make sure that when I do step away the passing of the baton is smooth.
It’s a tough question to ask ourselves, but a very important one to address because it forces us to:
BUILD A MINISTRY THAT DOESN’T RELY ON US
When you leave there will be a mourning period. No matter the length of your stay people will form relationships with you and miss you when you are gone.
What you don’t want is a ministry that falls a part because you are irreplaceable. That means equipping others to lead, and share responsibility.
If something happens to you or you need to walk away those men and women can step up and take charge. There will be less holes to fill and the ministry can continue to grow.
INVEST IN A HIGHER LEVEL OF LEADERSHIP
When you think about “Who’s next?” you think about not letting others down. That means ensuring the person who takes your place is set up for success.
Your successor might currently be in your ministry, so your efforts should be on helping them lead as well or better than you. Share with your team:
- The resources that help you grow in your craft
- Experiences where they can learn more about leadership
- Your day to day struggles, and successes
By investing in your team you raise the level of leadership which enables you to do more and reach more people.
KEEP AN EYE ON OUR EXPIRATION DATE
Even if you want to be at your church forever, it doesn’t mean you should be. That’s because your capacity to take the ministry where it needs to go is limited.
When you think about your predecessor you not only think about who’s next but when you should move on. Knowing when to leave isn’t an exact science.
But, one way to help you make the right decision is to watch those you are investing in. If you keep yourself humble there will be a point when you say to yourself, “Hey, they could do this as well or even better than me.”
Once you hit that point, start talking with those you trust about helping you make that transition. It might feel too early, but that’s a lot better than having it feel like it’s too late.
One of the best things you can do for your ministry is pass on the leadership baton before your time is up. Thinking about your successor will humble you but help you put what’s most important first.
How have you been working to replace yourself? What’s the biggest challenge you’ve face in finding a successor?
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