Why are endings and transitions so poorly handled in our ministries, organizations, and teams? Why do we often miss God’s new beginnings, the new work he is doing? In part because we fail to apply a central theological truth—that death is a necessary prelude to resurrection. To bear long-term fruit for Christ, we need to recognize that some things must die so something new can grow. If we do not embrace this reality, we will tend to dread endings in the same way our wider culture does, as signs of failure rather than opportunities for something new.
You Know You’re Not Doing Endings and New Beginnings Well When . . .
• You can’t stop ruminating about something from the past.
• You use busyness as an excuse to avoid taking time to grieve endings and losses.
• You have a hard time identifying your difficult feelings (sadness, fear, anger).
• You often find yourself angry and frustrated by the limits and pain of life.
• You escape or medicate the pain of loss through keeping busy or self-destructive behaviors such as overeating, inappropriate relationships, over-engagement with social media, or working too much.
• You struggle with envy toward those who don’t seem to struggle with the same struggles and hardship in life you do.
• You often dream of quitting in order to avoid the disappointments and setbacks that routinely characterize leadership.
• You are not honest with yourself about your feelings, doubts, and hurts.
• You rarely acknowledge directly that a program or person has outright failed.
• You avoid pain by spinning the truth and glossing over leadership losses and disappointments.
Most of us don’t do well with endings and, as a result, miss many new beginnings God wants to do in us and in our ministries.
I devote a chapter to this important theme in the upcoming The Emotionally Healthy Leader (Zondervan, July 2015) and will address it more fully at our 2015 Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference in NYC on April 22-23. But for now remember this: the reality that Jesus is risen from the dead enables us to affirm that endings are always a gateway to new beginnings – even we can’t discern that anything redemptive could emerge from our losses.