So I know this post was supposed to be about leaving well, but it turns out I had to write about something much more important: what I’m leaving with…
You should consider both things, don’t get me wrong, but I think anyone can leave well. It takes a leader (as a learner) to know the blessing and benefit of what they leave with.
At the end of the month I have a job transition and the truth is that long before this transition was eminent I knew full well that I would carry with me countless (and newly acquired) skills. However, more than that, I would take with me a deeper sense of character and relationships into the next thing. I want to share about two of those things below but first…
After nearly 3 years at the Crossing Church (a Non-denominational, Evangelical church where I worked since August, 2014), I will be leaving at the end of April to take up a new position at the church I first came from that summer nearly 3 years ago (Watermark OC Church).
It is a decision that has been weighed and measured and is still very bittersweet as we have built many relationships over those years. Relationships with staff, relationships with families and relationships with some of the most amazing volunteers and leaders in the whole world.
There are two more relationships that, while they have ended in an hourly work sense, have made an incredibly enduring impact on my life, my leadership, my view of the world, even my view God.
The first relationship is with the mission and vision of this church organization.
Which, ever since 1988-when it would have been far more radical even that it is today-has remained the same potent mix of belief in the command to reach those outside the church and actually living that command within every church program, ministry, message and person.
I have often described the mission and vision of this place as intoxicating or addictive. It’s the type of purpose or motivation that will make you want to forsake every other thing in your life to pursue. It’s that way not just because it sounds good on paper, but because the church actually lives it out.
For the past 3 years I sat in a room with fellow staff members and celebrated all that God has done and all that we witnessed-small moments of people making a subtle turn in their lives along with truly unbelievable stories of complete life transformation.
And I’ve alluded to this reality before but the proof is in the pudding as far as the types of “all people” who are welcome at this place… for starters, nonbelievers.
From there every other type of “atypical” person you wouldn’t expect to see at church. Homeless, drunk, addicted or in recovery, gay, straight, black, white, Latino and Asian-we’ve baptized them all, we’ve sat next to them all and we’ve suggested that they all deserve the grace of God in their lives.
But it’s one thing to say and it’s another thing to do, we all know that axiom to be true, but this church-because of the mission and vision that has driven it these nearly 30 years-is the real deal.
The second relationship that has forever marked me is this church’s founding and senior leader-Tim.
It’s difficult to synthesize and communicate the ways in which Tim’s leadership has impacted me as a person, pastor, leader because I’ve watched him as closely as I could over these past 3 years and there’s so much you can learn from a person like Tim-himself an insatiable life-long learner.
The first thing though is just how entirely flat-out obsessed (possessed?) he is about playing a part in seeking and saving those who are lost.
I’ll give it to you mathematically first, but it is a universally known fact (on staff) that Tim’s given 24-hour day looks a little different than yours or mine.
For starters he invests only 5 hours in sleep.
He wakes up at 3:30am he invests 2-3 more hours working out… everyday, literally everyday.
From then on, he invests in the people and work of the Church.
I know that, for Tim, its an all out assault on seeing the mission and vision realized (i.e. to see people say yes to Jesus in every way and phase of their lives).
He takes morning meetings with newcomers and new believers as early as 6am, back to back to back 2-hour staff meetings throughout the day and he goes and goes and goes because he believes with the core of his being that living every ONE day-investing those hours in the things and people that matter most-is the highest call of any person on earth.
I’m not trying to make him out to be some sort of mini-messiah or Jesus Jr. I’m just trying to show you that the depths of this man’s care for the lost and his grit to introduce them to Jesus have now formed a piece of my own DNA and I’m forever changed because of him.
And I have a feeling I’m not the only one, by the way. Because the other thing I’ll say about Tim is that it’s all about tenure-which I wrote about a couple weeks ago, but his commitment and resolve (and I do mean RESOLVE, because being a pastor ‘aint the easiest job around… well it is, if you don’t mind knives in your back and forces of darkness on your shoulders) for the better part of 3 decades to stay the course is, to me, one of the most remarkable legacies I’ve ever heard of (and it’s filled with the new lives of people).
And while I could site loads of big conceptual things from this relationship that have marked me, I will descend to what may seem like the smallest and seemingly most insignificant example. I want to end by talking about pieces of trash…
Yep, pieces of trash. One of the things that Tim always instilled in us staff was an owner mentality. And employees who think like owners-they don’t wait for janitors or gardeners to pick little remnants up here and there, they don’t assume its someone else’s job; they pick it up, because they have an owner mentality.
I share this example for 2 reasons: 1, to illustrate the high levels of character that Tim is spreading through his example and 2, to explain what leaving well really looks like…
Because you may be familiar with the data on employees who over-stay the “two weeks notice” industry standard… it typically doesn’t work for most people… they become well… useless.
And even as my impending transition ensues and that little voice inside my head says, ‘that piece of trash doesn’t matter, you won’t be here next month anyway…’ I know what I must do in the face of what is truthfully a character challenge.
The high call of character is to answer that voice by doing the right thing. The high call of character is to answer that “morally flexible” voice in your head by doing the very thing you doubt matters enough.
So I know this hasn’t been the typical, take these 5 pointers/self-help blog post but I guess I would say if you are preparing to transition in your workplace begin thinking about what you’re going to take with you and I’m not talking about staplers or quality pens or severance.
I’m talking about the personal, emotional and spiritual leadership skills, takeaways, competencies and yes especially relationships-good, bad or otherwise-that you will take with you to the next stage, place and people that will serve and guide you there.
I’ve told people repeatedly over the last month that this transition is bittersweet. Bitter because of the transition from the people I love. Sweet because I have the utmost in hopeful expectation of what I get to leave with and take to the next chapter of ministry that God has ahead of me at Watermark.
Thanks to all sincerely for taking the time and thanks for your support!