Recently, I heard of changes being made in Women’s Ministry for a church I am familiar with. This transition of leadership is exciting for the new leader, but could possibly be bittersweet for the leader moving out of the position.
And I think this is true for any transition of leadership. Transition is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. It is change, and change can be difficult. However, it can be made easier for the one coming into the position by those in the ministry with the right attitude and perspective on what is best for those who will benefit from the ministry.
The outgoing leader may not have been able to accomplish all they desired to do before their position ended, but God will place a leader to follow who will complete the work He intended to be completed through the position.
Such was the case with King David when he wanted to build the temple for God. But God told him that was not his job. The project was to be completed by the next king – David’s son Solomon. Therefore David set out to train his son, this next leader, in the way to proceed and complete the task.
“David said, ‘My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly great and famous and glorious in all the lands. Therefore, I must make provision for it.’ So David made lavish preparations for it before his death. Then he summoned his son Solomon and instructed him to build a house for the Lord God of Israel.” 1 Chronicles 22:5-6 HCSB
This is an example of an outgoing leader preparing the incoming leader for completing God’s assignment for the ministry.
But, there may be occasions when transition causes hurt feelings, lack of cooperation and grumblings from those in the ministry. These actions and emotions are detrimental, not only to the new leader, but to the ministry in general. There are ways you, as a ministry participant, can help in both situations.
For the one transitioning out:
- Be Sensitive. The outgoing leader may be smiling on the outside, but somewhat sad on the inside – happy for the change, but we all know that letting go is bittersweet.
- Be Encouraging. When God closes a door, He opens a window of opportunity in another direction. Encourage your outgoing leader in what God has in store for them in the days ahead. It may not be known at the moment, but God always has a plan.
- Be There. Often an outgoing leader is forgotten as time goes by and new leadership rises to the challenge. Reach out to the old while pressing on with the new in order to honor both.
For the one transitioning in:
- Be Supportive. You may have heard it said that it is lonely at the top. It is said because it can certainly be true. When you are in a leadership position, others may respect you and admire you; but they can be intimidated by your wisdom and position. So, be a friend giving support to your leaders through prayer and the heart of a servant giving of yourself to help them be the leader God has chosen them to be.
- Be Active. No leader can do all things by themselves for the purpose of directing a successful ministry. They need you to participate in a support role. God gave each of us spiritual gifts working together for the purpose of building up the church. We don’t all have the exact same gifts used through us in exactly the same way. Your new leader needs your gifts at work in the ministry. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting to see her fail.
- Be Wise. In order to be supportive and active, you must be operating out of the wisdom of God. He is the one who directs our steps in the way we should go. Ask Him how He would have you serve and be supportive of your new leader. More than likely, He will direct you to do so in a way that utilizes your gifts in the most effective way.
Whether you are an outgoing leader, incoming leader or a ministry participant; you all have a role in the success of the future of the ministry. With each one doing their part, God will be glorified, you will be uplifted and the ministry will thrive.