God has a habit of opening and closing doors in our lives. He uses these opportunities to shape us and grow us into the person He created us to be. Sometimes it's easy to walk through a door He's opened up. Perhaps you're in a job you know isn't a forever job for you, but you're just patiently waiting until finally, He opens up that new door and you can move into the career you've always wanted to.
I currently find myself walking through an open door, but it was not a super easy decision to make. I'll soon be leaving my position here at Concordia Publishing House to become the Director of Worship Arts at a Lutheran Church, north of Indianapolis, Indiana. It's a position that very much excites me and I think God has shaped and molded me to be the right fit for this position, but leaving my work family and the challenging and rewarding work that I'm doing here at CPH was a hard choice to make. As I prepare to leave, the most important thing on my mind is making sure that I leave in a way that will bring success to my successor. I think this is a very important topic for anyone in church work, whether or not you plan to leave your current position, to think about.
Communicate With Your Leadership and Your Team
One of the most important aspects of working with other people in general, is communication, and that's no different when you plan to stop working with people. As nervous as I was making my decision, I knew it was important to be open and honest with my supervisor, letting him know what doors God was opening and where I was in following His prompting. I didn't want there to be any surprises.
Sometimes work relationships may be in a place of struggle, where you don't feel comfortable having such honest and open communications about where God is leading you. If that's the case for you, I think that really should play into your decision. Perhaps God is calling you to stay in that position, but trying to show you the deficiencies in your relationships. On the flip side, maybe that position and work environment just isn't the right fit for you, and God is calling you to something else.
No matter what, communicating early and often with those you are working with will almost always turn out better in the end. It gives your coworkers the opportunity to not only talk with you about the opportunities ahead of you, but it also makes it so you are not going through the process alone. There can be others helping you work through the emotions of leaving, both for you, and the rest of the team.
Document Your Procedures and Processes
Once you have come to the conclusion that you are being called to something different, it's time to prepare for someone to take over for you. We all have our own preferred ways of working, but there's always a lot of information that you know about your job, that will also be helpful for the next person.
As I prepare to move on, some of the things I'm working on writing down for the next person are computer file structures (where is everything kept), instructions on how I edit and format blogs and videos, and who to work with on certain tasks. The list of procedures and processes you pass on to your successor may vary in length from mine, but whatever you pass on, will assuredly be extremely valuable to the next person to do those tasks.There are lots of tools you can use to help you with your documentation. At CPH, we use Microsoft OneNote, which allows you to share your notes with others, but there are other solutions out there such as Google Doc, or even by adding documents to a Dropbox account. As you type up your instructions, it's important to be as detailed as possible, because much of what seems like common sense to you, may not be the same for others. It's also helpful to add images of what you're talking about in where you can.
Be Available to Pass the Torch
This may be tricky, depending on what you're leaving to do, but if your new position allows you the time to do so, be available to the person who is taking over. No matter how much you write down to pass on, there will inevitably be things that your successor will need to know that only you can answer. My goal when I leave is to be a resource for the person taking my spot. I want them to be as successful as possible because I still believe in the mission of the organization I'm leaving. You can easily share your phone number or email with your successor and let them know you want to help them in any way that you're able to.
Saying goodbye can be difficult. Leaving a well organized and communicated plan behind won't always be easy, but doing as much as you can as you go will ensure that you aren't burning any bridges as you cross them. Especially in the world of the church, our goal should always be to help each other succeed because we have a unity in our purpose, to share the Gospel of Jesus.
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