I don’t do endings well.
As a leader I tend to perceive ending something I’m leading as tantamount to failing…especially if it’s a big thing.
Here are 4 keys to remember with Endings:
- Endings can (should?) create opportunity for what’s next.
- Endings are natural “end points” of life cycles, similar to death at the end of life.
- Endings must be informed by facts but are always colored with emotion.
- Endings are painfully postponed when informed by emotions and facts are ignored.
Be sure to celebrate and end something well when it’s had a long and/or fruitful season!
- Give testimony to what God has done.
- Celebrate past blessing and impact.
- Remember and thank those who’ve sacrificed and served toward its fruitfulness. NEVER let the people who gave so much get the impression that what they did was not valued or that it was wrong or wasted.
Over the years I’ve preached at many funerals, for many wonderful, godly people. It’s so easy to remind people that death gives way to life. Death stings…the grave wants victory, but we celebrate victory through our Lord Jesus Christ…
…whose suffering and death on a cross, whose “necessary ending” gave way to a tomb that was empty and Easter resurrection.
Endings usually don’t need to be the final word…it’s best when endings bless the resurrection of something that follows.
More and more I see people who could just “live unto themselves” and stubbornly refuse to face a necessary ending. They block opportunity for the unfolding of something new and fruitful in its place. They say: We want to be like a seed planted in the ground that’s willing to die so that there can be a harvest of many seeds long into the future.
It seemed I used to see mostly folks who would stubbornly hold on to a memory of the past and prevent a new season to emerge.
Here’s what’s hard for leaders!
- Defining reality takes courage and is usually met with emotional response.
- Demonstrating compassion and shepherding grief to those who mourn takes a willingness to listen.
- “What Comes Next” is usually unclear and seldom immediately fruitful.
That’s why it takes enormous hope and courage for leaders, and usually their spouses and families, to preside at the funeral of a dearly loved era or program or location or ministry…because death and burial are administered long before a resurrection to next life is witnessed.
I would say almost always the women and men in PLI learning communities find something being birthed inside of them that eventually leads to something new being birthed in their ministries. And that “new” leading to a harvest of new believers in Jesus. Contact Raechel if it might be time.
How about this for an assignment?
Forward this to your leadership group now. Ask three questions:
- What is the necessary ending we’ve postponed because we’ve “ignored facts” and “embraced emotion”? (Hint: Every church holds on to stuff that long ago outlived its fruitfulness.)
- Do we have the leadership courage to define reality and press toward something next?
- Would you ask God for “eyes that can see” and come ready to discuss what you see the next time we meet?
And finally! PLI exists solely by the generosity of individuals and churches that long for churches vibrantly living out the Mission of God. Would you make a gift today or determine to include PLI in your church’s mission giving budget this year?
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken