By Randy and Linda Myers
We have been in a series of blogs entitled “Ministry Years.” The last few weeks we have looked at some of the challenges pastors face during different seasons of ministry (You can read the previous blogs here http://bit.ly/2dPxgXI).
The last years of ministry is when the pastor asks, “How do I finish well?” I don’t believe this happens automatically. Too many pastors wait too long to address this. It’s important to openly share with your leadership about an exit strategy and a decision to leave well. I also think it is best when this is initiated by the pastor. Don’t wait to be asked to leave!
Some pastors have undone their ministries by leaving poorly. People remember how we leave just as much as how we pastored. Here are three important things to consider in these final years.
Keeping Your Passion
Don’t rest on your laurels, marking the calendar until the day of retirement. We all run out of steam. And, yes, there will always be things we like and don’t like about ministry. Passion wanes. However, keep the fire hot by keeping close to God and continue to learn and grow.
Be open and willing to change, right to the end! Look for ways to reach out to the next generation and don’t see them as a threat.
Dealing with regrets
When we get to heaven I know we’ll look back and wish we had risked more, given more, believed more. We can beat ourselves up with “I-could-have-should-have-would have” thinking. However, there are regrets in ministry. Here are some questions I ask myself…
- Did I spend enough time with family?
- Could I have led the church better and bolder?
- Should I have had more faith?
- Did I wait too long to make crucial decisions?
- Why didn’t I develop more leaders around me?
Some of us will have a harder time letting go than others. I was at New Hope for 31½ years. That’s a long time to settle in. One thing that helped me was to constantly remind myself that New Hope wasn’t about me. I wanted New Hope to succeed, not me. I also realized that I had probably taken the church as far as I could. It needed new vision and direction. That made it easier for me to let go.
Funny story. The other month I went back to New Hope to speak. The entire video/sound team didn’t know who I was and I didn’t know who they were. That is a good sign – new people involved! I love it! One lady running the lights asked me, “Were you asked to speak here?” Everything within me wanted to ask her, “Do you know who I am?” But, I simply told her that, “Yes, Pastor Clint, asked me to speak this morning!” No doubt she was surprised when I was introduced as the former pastor. It reminded me of how quickly we can be forgotten. And that is no big deal. Ministry is never about us, anyway.
BEFORE YOU GO…
We’d love to hear your comments! If you are in your latter years of ministry what challenges are you facing or what insights can you share?