Knowing When It’s Time to Leave


“I want to remain committed to a purpose, not a position.-Cory Booker

I ran across the Mayor’s comment  at a time when I was questioning my commitment to a leadership role in church ministry. An interviewer asked him how long he anticipated staying in office. I was surprised by his answer because it wasn’t the pat political response. By nature, I feel like I tend to stick around too long in situations that I’ve outgrown  for one reason or another.   I  didn’t want to be the colleague  who drives everyone  nuts at work by asking questions during the  last five minutes of an 1 1/2  staff conference call. Seriously, who does that?!! That person doesn’t understand the beauty of boundaries and honoring limits.  And I really  didn’t want to feel like the woman in a relationship whose waiting for the words she already knows have been spoken in the crevice of her heart:  it’s over. Like any relationship, or job,, it’s important to check in and evaluate what’s still effective and  useful. 

I’ll be honest and say I’ve held on too long  in relationships, jobs, and even petty arguments just so I’d feel like I had some sort of control. (That’s a story for another day). But even more so, I kept positions  because I worried what other people would  say. That ranged from my working as church ministry leader to being in a half-baked, terribly unhealthy relationship. Would the church volunteers  be proud of the work I attempted, or say I didn’t do enough? Would I be called disobedient in the spirit or faithful for trusting my voice? Even in my relationship, I didn’t feel comfortable anymore but I was too afraid to let go. What would he say in the end? Was I good enough as a woman or was it truly a bad fit for two people who just wanted  love?   It wasn’t a good time in my life as I struggled with these decisions.   As I look back, I knew what was best for me, but hadn’t learned to trust that God was leading me in the right direction in spite of the negative chatter spewing through the grapevine.  

I was stuck as a result  of not learing  the art of release. To me, the art of release simply means being self-aware of what’s working and what no longer fits in a person’s life. Then, having the willingness to make  changes before being forced to do so in crisis mode.   If you need an example: what about being fired from a job because you are underperforming? For my Love and Hip Hop Fans, what about staying in a relationship that puts you at risk for STD’s as well as constant emotional abuse? And my sports fans, what about Dwight Howard sticking around In Orlando when he knew that’s not what he REALLY wanted to do? Perhaps you can identify with this.   Staying put was hurting my ability to heal and move on in relationships and my career. 

This was the time in my life where I just wanted to be needed. If I wasn’t seeing anyone, I’d  take on project after project at work and church  as most single women do. See, it  fills up your schedule and you  can avoid instead of learning how to balance work and your personal life. I’m writing this from the perspective of a woman whose heart belongs to God and loves to serve him. I grew up  in church and believe strongly in  the power and purpose in serving in ministry. If anyone asked me to work on a project, I did it. Because they asked. And that may have been part of the problem. Who knew there were would be a time when I  have tapped out my  potential in a position and really needed to move on? It’s tricky and sometimes difficult to know when you are serving connected to your purpose and simply being busy  and stagnant after the goal has been met. I liken the word stagnant to dirty, muddy water after a rain. Stinks, huh?

In my relationship, we tried to adjust and it didn’t work. I pretended he was happy, he continued being unhappy, I was unhappy and the both of us kept bumping into each other with fake hearts.  It made us more uncomfortable. The truth was we weren’t a good match for each other and our needs weren’t being met. Now,  my involvement in ministry has the same concepts. I chose to step down at a time when there were multiple departures in other units within the church. And I stayed longer than I wanted to because I felt guilty. And it made leaving worse, and more difficult, and like a slow death both my volunteers wanted the transition to be done.   Thank God for his grace. Through that, I learned that  part of growing is moving forward. And knowing most of all, when it’s time to let go.  I was sad, but I would have been even  more despondent if I stayed. Not because I didn’t love what I was doing, but because there were other lessons for me to learn outside of the church I spent most of my time at. 

 I now pay more attention to the signs of change in my dating and career world. I am often the first to say, “I think it’s time for  a change.” Not because I’m bored or disatissfied. But because my purpose  and my understanding of who I am has become more clear.  And  that’s a good thing. I now know when it’s time to leave and have less  worry of what others will say. Guess what? Those who talk about you will talk whether you are present or gone. But that’s no longer my focus. I am.   

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3 thoughts on “Knowing When It’s Time to Leave

  1. Lori!!!!!

    Your post is telling the truth. I too used to battle with the same issue of when to go. But the closer I became with God in a relationship and not religion, I learned that I need not worry with what the people say but with what He says. I made up in my mind, heart, body, and soul that I will go where the Lord sends me. Some may see it as leaving, I see it as going (Isaiah 6:8). You do what He says and smile while doing it sis!

    Be encouraged. Be inspired. Be who He created you to be.

    Love,
    Bella Grace

    • Thank for you thoughts. It’s a delicate conversation because we forget that God gives us the very emotions we feel to help our awareness. When we don’t acknowledge that, we stifle ourselves.

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