Today I let my congregation know I would be leaving them.

Those are hard words to say to people. Not as hard, actually, as telling them a few weeks ago that we had been asked to consider leaving them. That one caught them all by surprise. And so this follow-up message was, for many of them, a foregone conclusion. Of course you’re going. This is the perfect opportunity for your family!

The support has been much needed. We know they’re sad to see us go, but we’re grateful they can see how this would be something we would be drawn towards. We aren’t leaving them for another congregation. And I pray that helps them understand it isn’t a personal thing, a failing on their part. What should we have done differently to keep them? It’s simply a matter of God moving pieces around. He’s done this before. He does it constantly. This time, we’re the pieces in motion.

Still, it’s not a small matter to the pieces involved. Ten and a half years of serving a congregation is a blessing. We leave not because we have to but because it seems like the best thing to do, both for us as a family and our congregation. Not easy, but best. And of course we each have much to contribute to determine whether it really is best or not.

Pastors come and go. Some blessedly so and others regrettably so. I’m reminded of the line in The Dark KnightYou either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Admittedly a pretty dark sentiment and one that isn’t always true. But it is certainly possible to overstay a welcome, to miss an opportunity to bow out while things are good, to linger on too long. Goodbyes can be good things, even if they aren’t always easy.

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