Pastoral Succession (Part 6) -- You Have One Job!
As we finish up this series on succession, you may want to do a quick review:
Part 1 -- The Elephant in the Room (getting past the awkward conversation)
Part 3 -- 3 Types of Transitions
Today, we look at the one job that each of the pastors have -- the one who is leaving, and the one who will take their place.
The Pastor Who is Retiring (or Transitioning) -- You’ve announced that you are leaving. The search committee has worked with me to find your next pastor. The vote has taken place and your new pastor has been selected.
Now . . . you have one job. From this point forward--it is your job to pass your credibility to the new pastor. He or she likely has no influence or leadership credibility with your church, while you have years, perhaps decades. All of the “influence chips” are in your pocket. It is your job to transfer as many of those chips as you can to the new leader. This starts the day they are selected, and it doesn’t end until your final day. Well actually, it doesn’t end ever. As long as you have interaction with anyone in the church--it is your job to champion the new leader. Do everything you can to communicate trust and belief in the new pastor. Stand with them, even when direction or decisions are unpopular. Actually, especially in those moments. That is your one job.
New Pastor -- It has been announced, and your first day is here. As it relates to a successful transition, you have one job. You are to champion the retiring pastor who has given years of service to the church. The longer the tenure, the greater the celebration. As long as they haven’t had a moral train wreck, and they are leaving in good standing, then do everything you can to honor his or her legacy. When you are recommending new initiatives, be creative to find ways to connect it to the foundation that was laid by your predecessor. If the relationship is strong, bring them back on occasion as a guest speaker. Sit on the front row taking notes. Show your congregation what it looks like to honor a leader.
Like I said last week, no pastor sets out ruin their church. And no new pastor intentionally trashes the legacy of his or her predecessor. With some intentionality, a great hand-off can happen. It doesn’t mean it won’t come with some angst. Or that you won’t have to bite your tongue at times.
Transitions are difficult. Emotions can run high. But so much is at stake, we must get this right. If my team can help you walk through this season, we’d love to have a conversation.