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Saying Goodbye Well

Saying Goodbye Well

Saying Goodbye and Releasing Well

It was seven years ago in a small office at LCBC that I first met my friend Jason Mitchell. The meeting was to talk about starting a local student ministry network called Project Renovation.  In the early days it was Jason, myself, Andy Gordley and Todd Henly who made up the Project Renovation team.  Over the years we have seen many changes, hundreds of youth workers reached and still more equipped for the work of youth ministry.   When you start something with great friends and trusted partners, it is always both exciting and difficult to watch when they move onto the next thing God has given them.

At another meeting this past Fall, over a couple cups of coffee at Starbucks, Jason shared his heart and how God had been leading him to transition from JCrew  to leading LCBC’s new BranchCreek Campus.  It came as no surprise.  For years we have dreamt and shared personal visions of our futures, and as I walked with Jason, I could see God preparing him for this new thing.

And still, when one of your key leaders and friend shares with you that they are transitioning into another position, excitement can be mixed with the feeling of loss.  For any of you who have led a ministry team, I know these are emotions you too have felt.  So we laughed, cried a little, and thanked God for what He was doing.

Reflecting back on that transition, I’m reminded of three key principles to saying goodbye and releasing well.

3 Keys to Releasing Well

Celebrate…  Take time to celebrate the person and their respective ministry with the students and your leadership team.  Honoring your leaders through celebrating their investment communicates deep value and worth to the person as well as your teens.  It is also equally important to celebrate their new ministry position.  A leader’s value does not diminish when they’re no longer serving in your ministry.  Commit to supporting them as they move forward, be present in prayer, and spur them on whenever possible.

Release…  When we release someone well, we empower them.  The leader transitioning knows they have a family who supports them, who will miss them, but who has also given their full blessing to go on the journey.  Not releasing our leaders well can communicate a lack of faith on our part.  Releasing well sets the leader free to go and give their best time, talents, strengths and gifts to the new organization. Free them from having to hold old reigns as they move forward.

Grieve…  Lastly, take time to grieve.  You have experienced a loss!  Be honest with yourself and those around you.  Take your time in filling the position and don’t just rush to plug the hole.  Realize that you are never going to have another person just like your previous leader.  That’s okay, you’re not supposed to.  Part of what God is doing when one person moves on is creating a new chapter for both them and you.  Be open to listening how God may want you to move your ministry in a different direction.

On A Personal Note

To my friend Jason, I am deeply thankful for our time together these past seven years.  I know that this certainly isn’t the end, but still I want to convey to you my deep gratitude for your friendship and personal care for my soul.  Over those same years, you extended care and training to countless youth workers in our area as part of Project Renovation.  For this I am deeply thankful and count our time together as a gift.  Please know that we are excited for you and are one hundred percent behind you at LCBC BranchCreek. I am deeply thankful for you, and believe the best days for LCBC and Project Renovation are still in front of each of us.

Your Brother, Rick

Rick Rhoads
Professor of Student Min at Lancaster Bible College
Rick is the Director of the Student Ministry Majors at Lancaster Bible College. He has served as an Assistant Professor in Student Ministry at LBC for the past 7 years. Over the past 18 years, he has served in various Student Ministry roles at Lebanon Valley YFC, LCBC, Calvary Bible Church, and Riverbend Community Church. Rick, his wife Naomi, and their two children Grace and Eli live East Petersburg, PA.
  1. Jeremiah Dowling01-14-13

    Hey Rick,

    I thought these were indeed some great thoughts! Thanks for sharing and for always being encouraging!

    In Christ,

    • Rick Rhoads01-14-13


      grateful for you and your words.


  2. Deb Turnow01-14-13

    Rick –
    What a beautiful, meaningful post. To celebrate and release someone to what God’s calling is for their life so affirms their gifts and abilities….and as you said, your trust in God. It speaks to the kind of leader you were to him, to walk along side him and nurture these things in him. And even more, allowing him the space, support, and encouragement to live into this new dream. What a gift.

    I wonder if some leaders struggle to do this for precisely the reason that is your third key – not wanting to acknowledge or work through the grief. Sometimes it is easier to create distance or animosity rather than admit the loss that change brings.

    Thank you for your honesty and for your commitment to not only being a good leader but in seeing that leadership goes beyond just the position….but into the very heart of the relationships you have invested in…

    grace and peace,

    • Rick Rhoads01-14-13


      Thank you for your words. I would agree that many leaders simply don’t know how to handle loss, grief or emotional processes. Our modern response is to move on, produce and in most cases simply cut-off to avoid any feeling of pain. Subsequently, we become something less than human. I would sense in most cases that many walk away feeling devalued.

      Deeply thankful for you and our newly formed friendship, Rick

  3. Elisa Parmer01-14-13

    Hi friend,

    This post is really encouraging. There are some key people shifting around right now in my life, and your offered some really good words here. Thanks for sharing! I love you bro!


    • Rick Rhoads01-14-13


      So good to hear from you. I am thankful these words were useful in your current situation. Know, you have my prayers during this time.

      Thankful for you as well, Rick

  4. IAmPaulAtkinson01-15-13

    Great post Rick! Thanks for all you do to empower and encourage others.

    • rick rhoads01-16-13


      thank you for your encouragement. Looking forward to another Soul Thirst together at some point. Thankful for your work in York. Rick

  5. Isaac Ketner01-30-13

    This is an excellent post! Some very close friends that I serve with are transitioning right now and it’s not easy to see them go, but these three steps are so true! Rick, thanks for your continual heart of equipping others!

    • Richard_Rhoads02-07-13

      thank you for your words. I am sure you will be a great blessing to them as they depart. Thankful for you, Rick