7 Tips for Leaving a Job Properly

Recently I received the following question. It’s one I’ve been asked several times and one I know is more common as an issue than even asked. I’ve omitted some details for obvious confidentiality reasons, but kept the intent of the question the same.

I am writing you seeking counsel regarding a significantly large decision my wife and I need to make about our continued service at a local church. The church is in turmoil and my wife and I feel released from our commitment here. Leaving is probably the best option, but how do I know for sure and how do I leave “properly”?

Here is my expanded reply:

Leaving is never easy, but many times, even in the worst situations, it can be done in a way that doesn’t further disrupt the church. First, you might consider these two posts:

10 Scenarios to Help Determine if it’s Time to Quit

Discerning a Change of Ministry Assignment

You need to discern first if you definitely feel released to leave and then if you are leaving. It may not be worth putting the energy into deciding how to leave until you decide that you are. If that’s where you are headed…

Here are 7 Tips for leaving “properly”:

1. Make it a decision of prayer and conviction. The more you can remove your personality or personal comfort from the process, the more likely you will be able to convince people you are leaving on good terms and that you are following God’s will and not your own. (As I mentioned previously, it may be that God has released you to make the decision. I find that true many times. Your first step, in my opinion, is to make sure you aren’t violating something God has told you to do or not to do.)

2. Start properly. I know. This is a post about leaving. But, honestly, that process starts long before the door swings closed. The sooner you start preparing people for your eventual exit, the easier your exit will be accepted by people when you do leave. Help cross train for your area. Identify key leaders who could fill in for an interim. You don’t even have to share all this information, but be thinking ahead of time who those people might be. Start making lists of things you do that others may not know. Think in terms of “if I’m not here, then…” and write some of that stuff down to share when you leave.

3. Discuss with and seek wisdom from one or two people you trust, who know you and the church. You’ll need a sounding board to help you confirm your decision, but also to help determine the timing and approach of your exit.

4. Develop a plan, with counsel and prayer, of how and when you intend to proceed. You’ll need to decide who to contact first, when, and how to tell the church. This will likely be different for every church.

5. Don’t throw punches on the way out. There’s never a win and often a lasting negative when a person lashes out in the final days of their involvement with a church. Any credibility gained can be quickly lost based on the way the person handles their exit.

5. Work to protect spouses and children. Ministry can be very cruel and may even get ugly before it heals. Don’t allow your family dynamic to suffer because of the problems of the church.

6. Prepare your own emotions. It is likely to be hard leaving, even if things are miserable at the time. Chances are you’ve invested your heart in this church. You started with vision and enthusiasm. You felt a call to go there. You never intended things to turn out like this. Regardless of why you are leaving or what you are going to do next, it won’t be easy walking away from something you have loved.

7. Don’t end when you walk out the door. Be available to further assist them as needed in the months after you leave. It may not be welcomed or needed but offering is the graceful way to exit and the right thing to do.

Make this post better:

What would you add about leaving properly? Have you ever left when the church or organization was in turmoil? How did you handle your exit? Looking back, what did you learn to help others?

4 Words of Advice for a Newbie Leader

I am consistently asked about the beginning days of a leadership position. In my opinion, the opening days of any job are some of the most important. Apparently others think so also. Recently someone direct messaged me on Twitter to ask, “What words of advice do you have for a newbie leader? I’m beginning my first pastoring role after years in student ministry.”

Now, as a “newbie” myself, I speak with more passion, and perhaps even more authority on the subject. I messaged him back and said “Learn the people first…go slow to change…think intentional in all you do…pace yourself.”

That was Twitter. This is my blog, so I assume I should explain a little further.

Here are 4 words of advice for the newbie leader:

Never use the word “newbie” again. (Just kidding. That’s not one of the four. But, seriously, is there a better word). :)

The real 4:

Learn the people first - Relational leadership is always most effective, but especially for a new leader. They need to learn to trust you. They need an opportunity to feel you are committed and connected to them. They want assurance you have the best interest at heart for them and the church or organization they’ve loved probably longer than you have.

Go slow to change – The older the church or organization, the more important it will be that you take time to implement change. Know the key players, communicate, communicate, communicate, and help people understand why the change is needed. All change is resisted, but fast change is most powerfully rejected. This doesn’t mean don’t change. Most likely they’ll expect and even want some change, but be smart about it. Listen and learn the things you can change immediately and things where you’ll need to move more slowly. That process takes time to do well.

Think intentionally in all you do – The more you can strategically plan your moves, the more you can help steer them to a positive outcome. In every area of your leadership, take time to think through the best way to handle the situation. Get input from key people. Plan your approach. Prioritize. Strategize. You’ll have plenty of surprises along the way, but if you’re intentional in the decisions you have control over, you’ll be better prepared to handle the unexpected.

Pace your leadership for the long-term – You won’t often know the length of your tenure as leader, but you should script yourself to be there for the long haul. That means you shouldn’t try to accomplish everything in the beginning. Spread some of your enthusiasm and energy over the first year or more. It will keep momentum going longer, keep you from burning out and the church or organization from wearing out. Also, think for the church or organization beyond even you. How can things keep building, healthy, vibrant and growing for the years ahead? When you set worthy visions and goals that carry people forward, help them dream and give them hope, they will want to follow your leadership.

Have you ever been the new guy? What would you advise?

God’s Vision for the Church

It may seem strange to some to see me in a suit, but here’s my first sermon at Immanuel Baptist Church. I actually do two services each Sunday…one in jeans and one in a suit. This is the one we videotape.

I’ve been here a few weeks now and things are going well. I’ll post more later.

In this message, I share what I believe is God’s vision for the church:

Ekklesia: God’s Vision for the Church 6.24.12 from ron edmondson on Vimeo.

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 5

This is part five of my interview with Dr. John David Laida. If you missed any of these segments, you can find them here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

In this final segment, Brother Laida addresses:

  • Word of advice to young pastors
  • Word of warning to young pastors
  • Future of the church
  • Advice on handling change and transition

Are you impressed, as I am, with the insight Brother Laida has shared? Share a word of encouragement to him in the comments. I’ll see that he gets them.

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 4

This is part four of my interview with Dr. John David Laida.

In this video, you’ll hear Dr. Laida address:

  • How he prepares for messages
  • Weaknesses in ministry
  • Dealing with controversy
  • 5 things pastors ought to do
  • The most important thing for a pastor to do.

Love The People from ron edmondson on Vimeo.

What did you find interesting in this segment? Have you enjoyed these so far?

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 3

This is part three of a five part interview with Dr. John David Laida. Brother Laida, as we called him, is a 92 year old pastor (about to turn 93), who, at the time of this filming, is still working full-time in ministry.

If you missed the first two segments, click HERE and HERE.

In this segment you’ll hear Bro. Laida address:

  • The way pastoring has changed
  • Protecting family in ministry
  • Being active in the community
  • Worship styles and adapting to culture


Are you enjoying this interview? What impresses you so far about Dr. Laida?

Two more segments of this interview…and they’re good! Stay tuned.

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 2

This is part two of my interview with Dr. John David Laida…or as I call him…Brother Laida. He has “supposedly” retired once, but never quit working. He’s still serving a church full-time today.

In this segment, Dr. Laida addresses:

  • Where he learned to lead a church
  • Delegation
  • How he handles church conflict

What do you think of Bro. Laida’s answers so far?

Bro. Laida: My Interview with a 92 Year Old Pastor, Part 1

This is the introduction video to my interview with Dr. John David Laida. Brother Laida, as we always referred to him, was my pastor growing up. He served as senior pastor for 28 years at First Baptist Church, Clarksville, Tennessee and under his leadership the church grew every year. He served as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and was a respected man in the community.

After retirement, Bro. Laida has remained active. He has preached almost every week since and has helped dozens of churches in transition as an interim pastor. At the time of this filming, he was about to turn 93 years old and had just taken the interim job of my home church, First Baptist Clarksville. He’s respected highly in this region for his wit, wisdom and his faithful service.

In this video, you’ll get an introduction into the beginning days of Brother Laida. It’s fascinating to hear his perspective on his earlier days of life and ministry.

This is a five part interview and this is the longest. Most will be 5 or 6 minutes in length. I hope you’ll enjoy learning from one of my mentor’s and spiritual heroes.

What did you enjoy most about his story this far?

Who is the oldest pastor you know still serving today? Honor them here.