The Succession Story (Part One)

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Let me set the stage for the Succession Story.

In the year of our Lord 2007, we purchased our current campus. During that season of time, discussions began at the Board level regarding my retirement date in light of assuming a large mortgage on the property.

As a result, my initial retirement plans changed from retirement in 2012 at age 65 to 2017 at age 70.

The Church Board eventually encouraged me to consider a succession plan over the normal method of calling a new senior pastor. Although reluctant at first, I agreed to undertake a succession plan because the Board believed that it would be the best for the church family.

I read that a succession plan has three advantages if the Lord is the one who appoints the successor. First, there is the comfort of a settled succession. Secondly, there is the reassurance of a God-initiated succession. And, finally, there are tangible benefits of an overlapping transition.

I requested two conditions regarding the search for my successor. The first condition was that I would be allowed to wait on the Lord and have the Lord reveal the identity of my successor. The second condition was that the decision would be left up to me to discern the Lord’s will regarding my successor followed by congregational affirmation.

In 2015, I revised my retirement plan to age 75 or 2022 to allow more time for the Lord’s succession and transition plans to play out (by this time the Lord had already revealed the name of my successor to me so the extra time was all about his availability and training).

There was one more stipulation regarding the succession plan. This stipulation or request from me to the Lord was between the Lord and me. I did, however, share it with the church leadership. The stipulation was that I would not call my successor out of his employment situation. God would have to make my successor available to us.

I wanted to make sure that the choice was not mine, but the Lord’s. I also would not call a sitting senior pastor away from his church based on my own belief that a senior pastor should be committed for life unless the Lord intervenes.

And so the stage was set for the Succession Story to happen. It was Proverbs 3:5-6 coming to life.

It gave me a lot to think and pray about…