Today Seth Godin has a great post about how we end things.
Quitting slowly doesn’t serve you well.
At work or in anything else you do, people will remember how you ended things. All in, then out is the responsible way to participate and to end that participation. Too often, we seduce ourselves into gradually backing off, in removing ourselves emotionally and organizationally, as if making ourselves unuseful for a while makes it easier for everyone.
Professionals bring their A game to work. Every time. (Rare sports analogy: this is how good hockey players skate. Full speed, then stop.)
Of course you will need to close things down, quit your job, move on someday. The responsible way to do that, though, is not to act things out while you agonize over a decision. Decide, give notice, make the transition work.
The church needs to pay attention to this wisdom. Often, pastors hang on to a call long after they have clearly checked out. And when pastors do transition to a new call or retire, they shouldn’t draw it out. Sunsetting a program in a church or denomination should be done with intentionality and transparency, not slowly and painfully.
Perhaps we might also suggest that the transition from existing forms of mainline Protestantism to emerging forms—which will involve the end of some of the previous forms—should also happen quicker than it is. Are we acting things out while agonizing over decisions? Are we letting ourselves become unuseful or irrelevant so that the end is easier?
In church language, Seth’s conclusion sounds like this: discern God’s direction, give notice, make the transition work.