Leaving well

Creative Commons "goodbye" by woodleywonderworks is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Creative Commons “goodbye” by woodleywonderworks is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

It’s my last day at my current congregation. If I had my way, I would leave my keys on the desk and sneak out the back door. Not because I don’t love my co-workers and church members, mind you, but because I do. Saying goodbye to people you care about is hard, especially if you’re an extreme introvert.

But, I firmly believe that how a minister ends her time in a position is at least as important as how she begins it. So here are the things I’ve been mulling the past few weeks:

  • Which relationships need closure? Not all of the relationships I’ve formed in this church will end when I put that last box of books in the car, but all of them will change. How do I mark this evolution with intentionality?
  • What loose ends need tying up? I don’t want to leave messes for my colleagues to clean up. They have enough on their plates with the transition.
  • How do I prepare the way for my successor? This is tricky in my case because no one has been hired yet. Generally, though, I want to file enough information to help the next person hit the ground running and avoid landmines. I don’t want to define his/her relationships with church folk, though, by giving too many details about personalities. I also want to leave the physical work space decluttered, Pledged, and vacuumed.

If I say my goodbyes and do my homework well, not only will I feel more settled, the minister who follows me will be better able to establish trust and get into the nitty-gritty of ministry quickly.

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