Next: Pastoral Succession That Works
Succession is a topic I am hearing more and more about the last couple of years. Interestingly, I seldom heard anything about it for the preceding twenty-plus years. I think it’s good that we are finally looking at this as the important process it is.
Frankly, I don’t have much experience in this area, so I don’t have much to add. But one thing I did make note of was the reasons why pastors tend to stay too long.
First was a lack of finances. Pastors feel forced to remain in their positions because they have no other way to support themselves. Unfortunately, this is a long-range issue. Planning for retirement needs to happen many years ahead of time; that isn’t something that can be addressed in a few years. Smart pastors—and smart churches—will take that into account when they plan compensation packages.
Second was not having anything else to do. Too many pastors don’t have a vision or plan for what they will do after retiring. Their whole life is focused on their church, and all they see when they try to look beyond that is a void. Personally, I don’t think it is true that our ministries end when we retire from being pastors; our ministries will simply look different. But that, too, is worth thinking about and preparing for.
Taken together, that means a wise pastor should be preparing for succession on a personal level well in advance. I think it’s easy to say, “I’m years from retiring; I don’t need to think about that now.” And while that may be true on the church side, it is not true on the personal side. It may take one to three years to prepare the church; it could take ten to twenty years to prepare yourself.