• facebook
  • instagram
  • twitter
  • mail

Replacing the Great Leader

Saying Goodbye

We work with some amazing leaders, all of us do. There are dynamic all-stars all around us. They create safe places for kids and students to grow up. They give of their time, willingly by the way. They lean into our kids on the issues that matter. They oftentimes invest hours of their own prayer time for the kids and students we love so dearly. But here is another truth about these people as well that we often don’t want to speak of…they also leave.

It’s true. Good people always leave eventually. You were probably one of these people yourself; you served, grew, and gave yourself to something…and then it was time for you to leave. It’s not a bad thing, really. Living in college towns for years has taught me that I need also be prepared for turnover in my leadership. Our college kids will graduate college, and they will move away to start their lives in new cities and at new churches. There comes a time that I begin to prepare them for leaving. As we are faced with the prospect of leaders leaving (for all the right reasons), we can and should be building some things into these leaders.

Leaders leave, and I don’t have to fear the consequences of them walking away. I can lead with confidence in the moment I live and serve in, and that will bring the necessary boldness for a new day down the road.

1. I have to convince them that what they do is long-term. Even though there will be job moves, relocations, and life changes; there is still a very future oriented impact they have. Reminding them that the kids and students they invest in will keep reaping from their time with them, will encourage them to replace themselves.

2. I want to introduce them to all that the church can be in the world today. Yes, they love our church. But, they also need to love THE church. It’s that love and passion that will help them transition wherever they go. When they know that they are a strong, but small, part of the entire church then they will be encouraged to replace themselves well.

3. I will model apprenticing and mentoring for them. I will be working to replace myself as well, and therefore always keeping the cycle of leaders strong in every organization I lead into. When I model it, they will be encouraged to replace themselves as well.


Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.