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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

04 Oct '11

Endings in our lives are normal

Posted by T.J. Addington in books, transitions
We tend to do beginnings much better than we do endings! But just as beginnings are a normal part of life, so are endings. Something must end before something else can begin. It may be a relationship that has run it's course, a job that has been miserable for years or maybe a termination that is long overdue. It may be a personal obligation that we have had for years and it is time to move on.

I am challenged by a new book by Henry Cloud called "Necessary Endings" where he seeks to normalize the endings in our lives, help us to see them as necessary as beginnings and to do endings as well as we do beginnings. Something must end before something else can begin. Somehow, however, we find endings far more difficult than beginnings.

Too often we see endings as negative when they are just a part of our lives. Not only that but they are the precursor to better things in many instances. I once resigned a job feeling like a failure. That ending was the best thing that could ever have happened to me as the situation was destroying me from the inside out. It opened up opportunities that I never would have had if I had stayed. I need not have agonized about "failing." It was a necessary ending and truly a gift.

I currently know leaders who need to end a relationship with someone on their staff but they cannot pull the trigger in spite of the fact that the staff member is in the wrong place and causing a drag on the ministry. Somehow they feel that it "would be too painful" to do end the relationship. Yet, that necessary ending is normal - and needed - and would open up opportunities for the staff member in the wrong role and the ministry that needs a new beginning.

Endings are obviously more challenging because of the emotional investment we have made over a period of time. Endings mean that we have to let go, move on, turn our attention to a new thing and be OK with the letting go. That takes a certain amount of maturity, intentionality and discipline to do well. The past can be celebrated but our attention, focus and emotions must move toward a new beginning - leaving the old behind. Imagine how Abraham would have fared if he had continually longed to be back to Ur after God told him to go to Canaan, necessitating an ending (Ur) and a new beginning (Canaan). The leaving was a necessary ending to the blessing he would receive by doing so. I cannot imagine it was easy.

Things run their course in our lives. And in order for something new to begin there must be and ending. I love my job but one day there will be an ending and how well I handle it will determine how well I move to a new beginning.

If you are struggling with a necessary ending, pick up a copy of Henry Cloud's book. He helps us think through a transition that is hard for all of us - but necessary - and the prelude to a new beginning. Endings are not bad. They are necessary.