LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

This Key

Have you ever considered what would happen if something that can't talk suddenly began speaking? If it could tell stories? Like the teapot in Beauty and the Beast, or the snowman in Frozen. Or what is up with that gnarly raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy?

Recently I was sitting in a waiting room fumbling with my keys--I only have three. And one of them has been in my pocket every day for 18 years.

This key.

I've easily used it more than 10,000 times. It used to open every room in the building--then things got a little more complex. But it still opens the front door, and it still opens "my" office--the same office that I moved into when the building opened on August 17, 1996; the same office I didn't move out of until earlier this summer.

If this key could tell stories, it might talk about the thousands of conversations that happened in my office--talks about life and God and faith and family; talks about frustrations and celebrations and disappointments; yes, some passionate conversations about how to do something better or whether to stop something that was no longer working.

This key might tell of tears of joy or cries of angst that happened in that office. It might talk about conversations overheard when someone accepted the invitation to join our staff team, or it might talk of the awkwardness of a final conversation with a team member before they left our staff.

This key might talk about the people who have walked through my door--distraught parents or unhappy couples; new believers excited about their faith; government officials helping us clear hurdles; architects and builders; CEO's; widows; some very rich people and other who are extremely poor. 

This key might talk about the work done in the office--budgets, discipleship initiatives, staffing plans, vision statements, organizational restructuring, financial decisions into the multi-millions, series planning, fund raising, and so much more.

This key has seen the staff grow from 5 people to 129; it has seen our property grow from nothing to 55 acres and $24 million in buildings; it has seen our congregation grow from a few hundred to several thousand.

This isn't a VIP's key. It doesn't belong to a celebrity. It belongs to me. Most of my work was behind-the-scenes--I'm guessing fewer than 20% of the congregation knew my name or what I did. I loved that. Being able to serve the church without being in the spotlight was an amazing privilege. 

This key can't talk about regrets. I have none. I served every one of the past twenty years to the best of my ability. That doesn't mean I was perfect or didn't make mistakes. But mistakes that one learns from are not regrets. They are life lessons.

This key also can't talk about any burned bridges. I walked away with my head held high. No harsh words were spoken, no feeble accusations were leveled. There is no one who I dread running into at Walmart or the Apple Store. I don't fear any awkward conversations. Everything is in the open. I love the church and the team that is leading it. I'm honored to have so many friends on the team.

This key can't talk about dishonesty or sexual advances or truth-twisting or number-fudging. None of that ever happened. Not once.

Early this summer I completed my assignment. Next month I'll be finished with my transitional coaching responsibilities, and I will return this key. And I'll walk away from my job 19 years, 11 months and 10 days after I started.

Someone asked me the other day, "Do you ever wonder if you made the wrong decision?"

Not even for a millisecond. I know without a doubt that my assignment is complete. I am so happy about my 20 years at Granger and everything we accomplished. But just as sure as I knew I was supposed to leave a secure job 20 years ago and join the staff of this little start-up local church meeting in a movie theater--I'm just as confident today that my mission is finished. Another adventure lies ahead.

But for now, it is time to turn in the key.