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Long “Hello’s,” Short “Goodbyes”

It’s an unspoken principle that has always guided our comings and goings.


When we first meet the one who would eventually become our spouse, most of us likely spent hours talking with them, learning about their job, education, hobbies, families, likes and dislikes. We asked questions, trying to discover everything we could about them and looking for any red flags along the way. We spent a good amount of time saying “hello.”


We know how painful they can be. My husband and I just dropped our youngest off for her flight back to Colorado. It’s her final semester before she graduates, and yet this was the most difficult goodbye. I tried, unsuccessfully, to hold back the tears, not wanting to make the farewell any tougher than it was. As I held her, I said the words, “short goodbyes” and let her go.

Goodbyes are painful. Dragging them out increases the ache. Better to just do it. Rip off the band aid. Don’t delay the inevitable. Get it over with.

When interviewing for a new employment position, it’s always beneficial to ask lots of questions. Find out as much information as possible.

Why did the last person leave?

What are your expectations?

What are the “must do’s”?

Do you have any “sacred cows”?

Ask lots of questions! Take your time with the introductions. Don’t rush your decision. Pray hard. Do your homework. Do your research. And if they are wise, they will do the same with you.

Long “Hello’s”!

Short goodbyes are perhaps less common, but when it comes to ministry, or any employment position, leaving quickly is usually a good rule of thumb.

I have heard of staff who have given five- or six-month’s notice, believing that remaining longer would be accommodating and beneficial.

“It will give me time to put things in place.”

“It will give them longer to find my replacement.”

“I don’t want to leave them in the lurch.”

Truthfully, if you know that your ministry is ending, you should be preparing to pass the torch long before you make the announcement. Things should already be “in place.”

The concern for finding your replacement might be valid, but when you weigh everything, I believe the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

When my husband gave his resignation letter to our two previous churches, he gave one month’s notice. When I left my position, I left immediately.


Leaving quickly is preferable for the sake of the church.

It’s well documented that once you’ve made a decision to leave a position, you have already mentally checked out and are looking ahead to the next opportunity.

You begin to disconnect from people, knowing that your relationship with them is going to change drastically.

You begin to prepare yourself and your family for the departure.

And undeniably, you begin to withdraw from any future planning in your work.

Your vision has changed.

Your enthusiasm has waned.

And even if you are leaving on good terms, your motivation inevitably fades.

As hard as you try to maintain your commitment and excitement, everything has changed.

You have already said “goodbye” in your brain and your heart will follow close behind.

Leaving under difficult terms adds another complicated layer to the mix.

Hurt. Misunderstanding. Spite. Animosity!

When the announcement is made that a staff member is leaving, or being let go, it will always start the gossip wheel turning. There will be questions, insinuations, accusations and issues which will need to be addressed. Leaving quickly will remove some of the fuel.

There are always two sides to every situation, and it’s easy for two opposing groups to grow as the gossip wheel turns. Being present to witness the fallout can be quite satisfying, especially if you’ve experience pain.

Seeing the support for your side grow is a subtle way to avenge your point.

“Sharing” information, under the guise of helping people understand, can soothe and appease those hurt feelings.

Revenge. Retribution. Retaliation.

It can feel good! Payback for the hurt you experienced. But it’s extremely damaging to the church. HIS church.

It’s time to leave!

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” Hebrews 10:30 (NIV)

Whether you are in the right or wrong, leaving quickly is better for the church.

Leaving quickly is preferable for you!

It can be extremely difficult to leave a ministry that you have poured into.

It broke my heart when I stepped away from my children’s ministry position. I loved my job, but I knew that it was time. Once I had made the decision, it was time to go.

Leaving quickly removes the temptation for finding satisfaction for the pain you’ve experienced.

The adjustment can start earlier. The pain of the loss begins to heal. Prolonging the inevitable is harder for everyone, but especially for you.

I’ll never forget driving away from the church building that day.

I was able to see the walls of the children’s ministry wing through the windows. We had hung posters on the walls (photos that we had taken of the children), and when I saw those faces, I could barely see the road for the tears.

Short “Goodbyes.”

As we drove away from the airport that day, the tears continued to flow... but then they stopped. To have stayed longer would have made it more difficult.

Saying hello or goodbyes are inevitable. Life is full of change.

Take your time when you face new arrivals.

Reduce the pain involved with long departures.

Long “Hello’s,” Short “Goodbyes.”

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