Recharge, Reinvent, or Resign – Part Three
Leaders in every generation have faced challenges. In the early days of the Jesus movement, church leaders were thrown to the lions (literally!) by Roman emperors. In modern times, leaders have navigated civil wars, civil rights, and economic depressions and recessions. Those are the large, public challenges. Then there’s the personal ones: depression, discouragement, stress, critics, and fatigue. As I survey the leadership landscape at the end of 2021, I believe it is the most challenging extended season of my 30+ years of leading organizations.
I will be addressing three ways a leader can approach this season of life and leadership. Each of them are equally valid, depending on your situation and the needs of your organization. If we lead long enough, we will likely experience all three. Click here to read the first post or second post.
Resign Your Leadership
Ouch! Just typing the previous headline felt painful, like saying out loud something that you (or everyone else) might be thinking but won’t say out of courtesy. While it sounds mean-spirited, it’s actually not. In reality, it might be one of the kindest and most freeing things you’ll ever do as a leader — for yourself and your team.
Every leader goes through seasons. These seasons may be short in nature, a few weeks here and there, or they may be extended periods of testing. In my line of work as a pastor, everyone has a bad Sunday and no one should make a career-altering decision on Monday. (Unless it was a REALLY BAD Sunday). Depending on the season, better recharging of the batteries might be all that is needed. Or, reinvention might reinvigorate your leadership heart beat.
What if neither of those two approaches work? Is that the time to resign?
Not necessarily. It might be. But it also might be that you need to push a little longer, adjust a little more, and try a few new hobbies. In other words, we can endure much more than we think we can. For example, take your arms and raise them as high above your head as you can. Now raise them higher. Whenever I do this exercise in a live setting, nearly everyone can always raise their arms a little higher – even when they thought they had raised them as far as they could.
Some leaders quit too soon when a better season might have been just around the corner. But this is also true – some leaders hang on too long. The better season never comes, in part because they’re not the one to lead the team or organization into it.
Some leaders will need to resign their leadership before they actually retire. Good leaders are thinking about the long-term health of the organization and succession planning is a big part of future success. How many companies or organizations have you seen struggle through poorly planned leadership transitions? While not always true, it’s usually an indication that the senior leader never resigned his or her leadership.
What does that mean? It means you gradually lessen your role and increase the role of someone else. You mentor the next leader and let them lead in meaningful ways. Until they can establish themselves, you lend them your credibility and let them lean on your reputation. Like an Olympic relay, learning to hand-off the baton is something that must be practiced often in order to get it right.
While a well-planned succession plan is nice, not all transitions can be scripted out in advance. To put it simply: there are times when a senior leader needs to resign from a position — and it might not be time for retirement. If a leader has lost the trust and confidence of his team (and it cannot be regained), it might be time to resign. If a leader’s health is suffering or his family is struggling, it might be time to resign. If a leader no longer genuinely believes in the mission of his organization, it might be time to resign.
For many leaders, they never consider resigning because it feels like failure. Most of the time, it’s not. It’s a recognition that the circumstances are changing and that everyone will be better served when they serve within their sweet spots. In some ways, it’s a recognition that opportunity is still out there.
Without knowing your individual situation, I can’t tell you whether you need to recharge, reinvent, or resign. Even then, the best I could do is make a recommendation. There’s no spreadsheet I could forward you that would make the decision crystal clear. I do believe our Creator has the ability to light our path and provide the resources we need when we need them. I’ve also been blessed by seeking the advice of trusted friends. In the end, I’ve often had to take step of faith — an action step — that set in motion things unforeseen at the time. At some point in life, you will be asked to do the same.
Experience and Background
- Professor at Warner University
- masters in business administration (mba)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
One of the things I enjoy the most is helping individuals or organizations reach their full potential. It’s been said, “everyone wins when a leader gets better.”
Need an engaging speaker for your event or conference? At the moment, I am available on a limited basis to speak for seminars, workshops, or worship services. Click here to learn more.
I’ve written a few books that might help! You’ll find books on preaching, leadership, Ephesians, as well as my first novel. Follow this link to learn more.