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When It's Time to Leave

A pastor is wise to wrestle with the leave-decision on an annual basis—a few days budgeted for self-examination, for seeking the insight of reliable counselors.

In February 1999, I made a leave-decision. I informed the congregation I served, Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts, that in five months I would resign and pursue other avenues of ministry: speaking, writing, teaching, consulting, mentoring.

I felt that my sixtieth year might be the right one to step aside in favor of a younger leader. And at sixty (at least I keep telling myself this), I felt I still possessed an innovative and risky spirit so I could embrace new projects, new ideas, new connections.

When the day came, the church named me Pastor Emeritus and offered kind words and generous gifts of appreciation. It was a good ending. Then they set out to find my successor, and they found a very good one. Today their momentum goes on well without me. In fact, a lot better. That's what this piece is about: leaving a (not "the") ...

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