Leaving is a Celebration; Finish Well

I’m about to complete both an M.Div. degree and an internship. For three years, I’ve been rigorously training so that I could leave seminary and pastor a local church. This church’s visionary leadership has provided me with an opportunity to both obtain a master’s degree AND attain three years experience in pastoral ministry. I have been able to preach, counsel, marry two great friends, lead leaders, solve problems, organize large community events and grow in prayer. I will always be grateful to my gracious God who moved this congregation to create a program that has trained me for pastoral ministry.

Leaving is a cause for celebration!

In July, I will be leaving Faith. I am so excited to be moving into a pastoral role at a church in Western Mass., but I want to make sure that I leave this great church well before I head out East. The fact of the matter is that leaving is a cause for celebration! It is a sign of success. I made it!

Here are my goals in leaving:

  1. Communicate clearly and often that I am extremely grateful for my time here.
  2. Equip people to take my place so that the ministry isn’t affected by my departure.
  3. Love the people here as if I were staying for the rest of my life.
  4. Document what I’ve been doing so that my replacement can hit the ground running.
  5. Prepare the lay leaders to smother my replacement with grace and thankfulness.
  6. Recruit friends who will continue to pray for me and keep in touch after I’m gone.
  7. Remember all of the blessings that I have received while I am here.
  8. Prepare for my new life and new role.
  9. Reconcile any relationships that have been hurt by my sin. I’m running out of time to make things right!

I’m tempted to begin focusing on the future and ease up on ministry here. But God wants me to work hard where I am. He wants me to give everything I’ve got to the people I’m with now while being excited for the new ministry options I’m going to have.

God wants me to work hard where I am

For all the graduating college students, fellow seminarians and people in transition, finish strong. Love the people around you. Leave your ministry and relationships in a stronger place than when you got there. Leave with out regrets, and equip people to take your place so that things are successful without you.

This post was contributed by Joel Bertles. He is a Pastoral Intern at Faith Church, and he going to be pastoring at a church in Western Mass after he graduates in June. You can follow him on twitter: jcbertles.

Joel Bertles