Like many people, I was totally surprised by the Pope’s resignation this past Monday. To step away from a level of leadership takes a lot of courage. It’s especially rare to have a leader with so much power step down by choice. Many times, we see leaders step down because they lose an election, a term ends or because of a scandal. There is much to learn from Pope Benedict XVI’s actions.
You will not be the leader of your ministry forever. One day, you will have to step down because of some kind of life change. It’s important to recognize this transition ahead of time so that you can take the necessary steps to transfer power. How do you know when you need to step down?
• When Resentment Builds: Your calling is going to have its rough moments; however, it should be fulfilling and rewarding. Once you start resenting the people you lead and work with, it’s a sign that you might have to step down. The best way to figure this out is by taking a break so that you can clear your mind and heart. If you resent the idea of going back, think about stepping down.
• Labor Outweighs the Fruit: Sometimes the work becomes too much. You might enjoy what you are doing; however, the physical and financial toll are too much. Sometimes in these situations, you can alleviate the work by seeking help; however, in the end, you need to be able to handle the work.
• The Vision Is Blurred: It’s easy to get sidetracked off of your vision. As your responsibility increases, so do your distractions. A leader needs to stay focused on the vision or else it can take him or her on a tangent that could lead them down a path of destruction.
• It’s No Longer a Calling: You enjoy what you are doing and who you are serving; however, God has placed on your heart a different calling. This means embracing the direction He has called you and taking the steps to hand over leadership. This can be emotional because you feel obligated to fulfill a commitment; however, this new path excites you.
Before you feel that need to step away, make sure you are consistently delegating responsibility to future leaders. This is a practice in replacing yourself as a leader. You never want to build a program or ministry on your shoulders; therefore, you need to look at surrounding yourself with people who can step in when you need to step down.
How do you know when you need to step down? Have you ever had that experience?