At 58 I am acutely aware that there is a finish line to my professional life lurking in the next decade or so. Not my influence as that can continue long after my final paycheck but our jobs don't last forever. We play our role and then yield the stage.
At least that is the way it should be. My predecessor yielded the stage to me with grace. Not only did he not meddle with me but he chose to support me even as I made significant changes to the organization. I had so much trust in his character that I invited him to a new part time role that allowed him to do what he loved to do.
Yielding the stage is a hard thing to do. Our ego is often wrapped up in our work. We have put strategies and philosophies in place that we believe in and don't want others to mess with them. We hired staff who we will be leaving behind and who will be giving allegiance to a new leader. And, it is hard to reconcile that our time is now over at least in the official sense. If one has had a job they loved and seen some success I doubt this is ever easy.
While not easy it is a test of our maturity and character. Maturity to understand that there are seasons and they come to a close so that new seasons can begin. Character to leave in a way that blesses the ministry rather than hurting it in any way. How many pastors, for instance, hang on long after they should and elders must literally pry their fingers from the ministry so that they can move on. Or board members whose time has come. And ministry founders who need to allow the ministry to go to a new level that they cannot lead but cannot yield their control.
Humble leaders understand the concept of seasons and that it is not about them but about the mission of the organization. The moment I lose my passion for the job I have is the moment that I need to hand it over to another even if that comes before the end of my professional career. It is true for all of us.
Think about this issue long before you need to implement its principles. The day comes for all of us to yield the stage, often faster than we expected or wished but come it does. How we handle the end of our careers is just as important as how we stewarded our role along the way.
(Posted from Atlanta)