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My Advice to Leaders: Leave Before You Have To Leave

By February 26, 2016October 12th, 2021Leadership, Life Plan

Here’s some advice I’ve learned watching people in organizations over the years. I’ve seen it in government, business, and, sadly, far too often in the church.

Some people stay too long.

Does this sound cruel? I don’t mean it to, but they do. They stay beyond their welcome. Beyond their usefulness. Beyond their ability to make a positive impact.

So, I have some advice.

Leave before you have to leave.

When you are tired of the vision

When you can’t support the leadership

When you have no heart left to give the organization

When you consistently struggle to stay motivated

Certainly, when you feel God is freeing you to move elsewhere

Leave before you have to leave.

Don’t be forced out because you’re too stubborn, scared, or have a false sense of loyalty. You’ll do more harm to your reputation, your attitude and the organization during the miserable days.

And, as some have pointed out in the comments, it may be you need a rest – a sabbatical – but the point of this post is to do the right thing – for you and the organization. Never stay for a paycheck, or a false sense of loyalty, or because you’re afraid to walk again by faith. 

Do the right thing.

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Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • Alex says:

    Great post again, Ron,
    I needed to read this today. One thing I have always lead by – leave when things are good, don't wait until things get bad. My wife and I did this many years ago as Assoc. Pastors. When both of our ministries were running good with great success – we left. It was time and we knew it. We had prayed and believed this was going to be God's appointed time. It was a little bit of a shocker to most since things were going good. So we found workers to be trained to cover our positions and the Senior pastor took care of hiring to cover my position. Is always good to leave good memories and friends behind, than hard feelings. It makes for a hard move (emotionally) but refreshing in others.

  • Todd Rettberg says:

    I love the article, I was struggling to leave because of feel loyal, though I felt the Lord was saying leave. I did leave by resigning and looking back I am so glad I did._

  • Claire Young says:

    I just did this at the end of 2015, and two days ago said to a friend, "You know I could have stayed and retired there." But I knew that it was time to go, and staying would have been disobedient and cowardly. God is with me in the transition and I know it was the right time to go. To anyone who is feeling stuck, I say, trust God and go.

  • jonperrin says:

    Great article, Ron! We stayed longer than we needed to at our first ministry position. We thought we needed a "Word from God" in order to move on. (You can probably guess my theological background :)) Since then I've served under some amazing leaders that have taught me the exact things you just listed. And they haven't failed us in the transitions we've needed to make. I appreciate your willingness to continue investing in leaders. Keep the articles coming!

  • jonstallings says:

    And when you leave – no matter what the reason, leave well. It is good for all involved and you never know when you just might need walk back across that bridge (burn no bridges)

  • Bud Brown says:

    Good counsel, but a counterpoint should be added.

    It may be you’re experiencing all those feelings because it’s time for an extended rest – a sabbatical in the parlance of the days of yore. It may simply be time to rest and re-envision.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Good point. I may actually add a line to make this clear. Totally agree.

      • Keith says:

        This was a point that also came to my mind. It's important to be sure that it's not a wounded ego or a dip (as Seth Godin calls it) or a depression of some level. Excellent list Ron and I think that line would be very helpful.

  • Love this!!!! I have tried to live it!

  • Billy Ingram

    I love it! You can’t pursue excellence if you don’t believe it can exist in an environment. Life is too short to live any part of it in misery… or tolerate vendor coffee.

  • @claywginn says:

    I'll happily second this info. I won't tell the story here, but this is happening to me right now and I can't be more thrilled about it.

  • Yes and yes. I am retired (my take on it) today because I just couldn't give any more…I felt used up. This year, since I left my job has been refreshing. In the back of my mind I am planning to re enter the work force in another capacity, but I want to make sure God is fully included because I am not finished with his work.

  • I always remember the advice I heard long ago: "Never run FROM anything. Run TO the next thing."

    Leaving unsettled baggage behind will only serve as your ball and chain in your new place.