4 Things to Think About Before Leaving a Position with Nowhere to Go

by vernsanders on May 24, 2011

This #5 in a series of posts that might be called “Tales from a Life,” and this one in particular is related to this one, in general terms, and also this one. Everything you read here has either happened to me, or occurred to me as a result of serving in some sort of music ministry position. I suppose this series of posts could also be called “Change Happens…Deal With It.”

I do know that some people are addicted to the adrenaline (or the drama) of change, but in general I think we would all agree that change is scary.

(I remember meeting a guy at the Aspen Music Festival when I was studying there in the 1970s who told me he that in the fall he was going to start his 21st straight “Visiting Professor” appointment, each of which had been at a different university. At the time, I figured since he was an African American, that it was because of the color of his skin. I mean he had to be competent or he wouldn’t keep getting hired, right? Now I wonder if he just couldn’t settle down, or only had one year’s worth of teaching techniques.)

Back to change…which is, at some level, a constant in every human’s life (remember when phones came with a cord? or were all black? or when you picked up the handset you spoke to an operator?).

In my experience…and it is my opinion…if you are unhappy enough with a ministry position that you wish you were someplace else, it is time for a change. But, you say, in this economy, leaving a paycheck is a really scary thing. I grant you that, and what follows may not be in your comfort zone. But hear me out.

I’ve voluntarily left 4 different positions with nowhere to go, and each and every time my next position was far better…for me, and for both of my employers.

Now part of my comfort level with leaving with nowhere to go comes from the fact that I am a scanner, according to Barbara Sher, which I talked about first here. Part of my comfort level at this point in my life is that I’ve been through it, so I pretty much know the drill. And for full disclosure I want to point out that the transitions were not always easy. But boy were they worth it.

If you find yourself in the position of wishing you were someplace else, but not having anywhere specific to go:

  • do your best to find a new landing spot before you leave, but when the time comes (and you’ll know it…trust me) don’t be afraid to shake off the dust from your shoes
  • always keep a reserve of funds for an unexpected transition, because circumstances can change quickly (see above)
  • accept the fact that you might end up doing something that you haven’t done before, and that is not necessarily a bad thing
  • remember that you don’t have to take the first thing that comes along, but remember that the first thing that comes along might be the best thing that will come along…I made that mistake once twice, and I’ve learned to be more discerning about every opportunity

In case you think my experience is away from the norm, I should tell you that I’ve had this conversation with people, and those who did the same thing had the same experience…every single one I’ve ever talked to about it. So my advice is to trust your instincts, and trust that things happen for a reason. You may choose to stay…and that’s fine…but don’t complain about being trapped. My experience is that there have been better times and seasons, even if you don’t know what is coming next.

Has this happened to you? I’d love to hear what your experience has been, especially if you’ve had a negative one. Please leave a comment below.

Ipod shuffle status: 3025 (Sit This One Out – Soloman Burke – just a great use of a B3 in this tune)  of 7875

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