3 Keys to Leaving Well

3 Keys to Leaving Well

When I resigned from one of the first jobs I ever had I was given one final written evaluation. In that evaluation a supervisor decided to put in one last jab and mentioned that my openness to correction needed improvement. The comment made me so mad that at the bottom of the sheet I decided to leave my own last few words. I voiced pretty much every complaint I had bottled up for the last few years.

I regret doing that now.

I don’t ever plan to go back to that job, but I feel like I made a big deal out of something that, looking back, seems so petty.

Life is made up of seasons. There will be seasons that require you leave a job, church, or city. I’ve found that one of the best predictors of your success in the next season is how well you left the last season. Here are three specific things I share with folks in transition about how to leave well.

1. Don’t throw a grenade over your shoulder as you leave – That’s essentially what I did when I wrote all my complaints. I lashed out in one last attack as I was leaving. It’s tempting to let years of pent up frustration run wild when you leave, but it’s not wise. From a purely practical standpoint, people talk. Word will get out about how you left. It may come back to haunt you.

But for me the bigger deal is the personal integrity. It feels like a big deal now, stepping away from what you know and into the unknown, but trust me, you’ll look back and realize it wasn’t as big of a deal as it seemed at the time. Hold onto your integrity, keep the pin in the grenade and save it for a bigger battle (or maybe not at all).

2. If you aren’t leaving by your own choice, leave quietly – Getting fired, let go, or asked to leave hurts. It feels unjust. It’s really tempting to make a bunch of noise and put up a fight. But the fallout from choosing that path is messy.

When King David’s son Absalom rose up to run his father out of the kingdom David left quietly. David was a hardened warrior, surrounded by warriors. He could have easily fought hard and kept the kingdom, but lots of people would have been hurt. Instead he just left quietly. He trusted God to defend his reputation and set things right. If you are forced out, trust your reputation to God. Have faith in his justice.

3. Don’t get all spiritual about it Yes, God may have told you it’s time to leave your job or church. But it’s not wise to go telling everyone that. First, you might be wrong. Maybe you think you heard God but you are really just angry at someone there and don’t want to admit it (I’ve seen this a lot!). When you mature a little and realize the real problem you may want to go back. But if you’ve made a big spiritual deal about it, it will be much harder to go back.

If you feel God is calling you to a new place always seek counsel before you go announcing it to everyone. If, based on prayer and counsel, you discover it really is time to leave, just tell folks you are stepping into a new season. That leaves the door open for you to come back.

How you leave this season will have major effect on your next season. So make sure you do it well. Seek counsel. Do it cautiously. Be gentle. Stay humble. And then step out into the unknown. God will guide your steps.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… Ecc. 3:1