Susan Beaumont offers her insights into Large Congregations in this piece about responding to the question “shall I stay or shall I go?”
“I don’t want to stay a day longer than I ought to.”
“I don’t want to be a lame duck”
These are the two most frequent concerns I hear expressed by clergy leaders who are thinking about retiring or leaving their post. Quickly, the conversation moves away from the first question and onto the second. It’s not unusual for me to enter a congregation and have two independent conversations on the same day. First, the clergy leader approaches me and says, “I’m thinking about retiring or moving on, but I can’t discuss this with any of my lay leaders because doing so will make me a lame duck leader.” A lay leader approaches me and says, “Many of us are wondering what the pastor’s retirement plans or vocational plans are, but we can’t ask her for fear that she’ll think we want her to leave, or that she’ll become a lame duck leader once the conversation begins.” Consequently, nobody speaks about a looming departure and the anxiety level of the congregation builds.