Two of the key leaders at Willow Creek Church will be moving on in the next few months. It will be interesting to watch and see how this transition is handled. If you are a leadership junkie like me, you will be constantly wondering about the "story behind the story."
A little over 14 years ago I was transitioning from one ministry to another. I had just completed a multi-year stint as a "volunteer" executive pastor of a church of about 1000. I had been the key leader in a move from one location to another. I had also seen the church decline from 1000 to 500. When the move was completed I was getting "strong leadings" from God that one chapter had ended and another was beginning.
Making a long story short, although I am quite sure that God was leading, I am also quite sure that I didn’t handle myself with much dignity as I moved on to pastor a church in a community 10 miles away and over the hill from where I had been working for the previous five years. While there were no "dead bodies" or split congregations, there were some hard feelings and difficult moments. Even the smallest rejection is painful. We all yearn to be celebrated and appreciated, but when we are leaving, and both sides, "the leavor and the leavee" (I don’t think these are actual English words, but they do kind of work, don’t they?) are not in mutual agreement, there are bound to be some hurt feelings.
The worst kind of leaving is when we have been "fired" or forced into resignation. I have experienced this a few times in my life and boy, that is no fun at all. Closure is an impossibility. We can’t help but conduct postmortems in our minds, sometimes ad infinitum, trying to make sense of what happened. I hope to learn from my past mistakes and make my future transitions with dignity and grace.