By guest blogger Randy Lovejoy, part 1 of 2.
“He must increase and I must decrease.” — John 3:30 NASB
It is Sunday morning. I am at home. No pressure. No adrenaline.
I have stepped down.
Sunday mornings are usually a time of action. I would get up early, shower and dress before 7:00am. I would go to Intelligencia, my little “splurge,” to get coffee and a blueberry scone. Then I would arrive at church before every else. As I entered the empty building a sense of urgency would stir inside of me. The creative juices would begin to flow as I had a limited amount of time to finalize the sermon and the service. At 9:00am I would begin to coordinate transitions with the music director and the sound and projection people as congregants began to arrive. The excitement, and the nervousness, would build. The sound of the band and choir practicing would calm my nerves and begin to turn my heart toward God.
But I have stepped down from my solo pastor position. And so, on this Sunday morning, I am at home. No pressure. No adrenaline. And my coffee is homemade. It is okay. But I miss my Latte.
Stepping down brings such a strange mix of emotions. I have a couple of books before me that I really want to read. When I was pastor I lacked the time for such reading. Most of my reading was for the sermon or for the weekly Bible study I led. Now I have the time. When I look at the books I am excited. But then I realize that I don’t have the deadline that a weekly sermon and Bible study offered me. The weekly discipline would push me to think and plan and write. I will have to find a new way to keep myself motivated. And how will I keep my public speaking skills sharp? The arena for such speaking has diminished now that I have stepped down.
If I step back and look at the bigger picture, the emotional mix continues. The church leadership has stepped up as I have stepped down. There is a commitment and an energy at the church that continues to build because of my move. This is a good thing. I came to this church as a redevelopment pastor and, over more than 13 years, we learned to follow God’s lead into the future. We lost our old identity and we began to develop our new one. It became clear to me over this last year that the church needed something to motivate them to take the next step. The people of the congregation needed to own the church. They needed to take greater responsibility for this community of faith. They needed to see themselves as the heartbeat of God’s work in this community. Now that I have stepped down they have this motivation. It is working. And for this I am glad.
But I will miss being their pastor. Some of the relationships will continue. But they will take a new shape. I will no longer have the privilege of being their spiritual support and guide; an honor for those who follow the calling. Other relationships with congregants will diminish or disappear. Still others, which would have developed if I had stayed and met them as first time visitors to the church, will not occur at all.
I miss the relationships.
Joy and sadness. Grief and relief. A job well done and the wait for what is next. (You can read about this in tomorrow’s entry.)
I have stepped down.