Being let go from any job is a blow to the ego. Unfortunately, being let go from a ministry position can be a blow to the soul as well. Many grapple with feelings of hurt, confusion, anger, and bitterness when it happens.
Obviously, there isn’t any secret formula to making the best recovery; but the advice below reflects the experience of many who have gone through the same trying season.
This concept seems obvious, but I believe it is the most important yet most often rushed step. Usually, when you’re let go from a job, your focus is your bank account and future employment options. These are important, yes, but if you don’t begin that job hunt with a clear heart and strong focus, the end result may be disappointing.
1. Evaluate: How am I really feeling? Really.
Angry? Relieved? Let down? Confused? Pride and denial can create a pretty thick wall between reality and pain. As the fog lifts from the initial event allow the real feelings to surface so they can be identified and dealt with. Knowing these feelings is crucial to the healing process.
2. Evaluate: What can I take away from this?
Someone wiser than me recently told me a story of strong conflict and aggression they faced while in ministry. Through it all, a valuable lesson was learned: “Take anything here you need to own, and throw away the rest.” There can always be some sort of ownership when something like that happens. Even if you disagree with the reasons you were let go, honestly evaluate the situation, take responsibility for anything you need to, and learn from it.
3. Evaluate: Do I need a season of rest?
A career in ministry is not for the faint of heart. Anyone that has spent any time working in ministry knows that your workday doesn’t end at 5pm, and you don’t get to forget about your job until the next morning. It’s a job that involves your time, gifts, family, and (not to sound trite) your love.
Pouring all of these things into a ministry and group of people can drain and exhaust you. So if these people or that ministry elect to cut ties with you, it can be quite devastating.
We’ve heard stories similar to this in our daily interactions with candidates looking to serve in ministry. Some of the best recovery stories we’ve heard are when a terminated employee decided to step away from ministry for a season. In some cases, it was for a few weeks or months to rest and refocus. In others, it was several months and a change of location.
In a few cases, it took several years in a different vocation to heal completely. Whatever is the wisest choice for you, it’s important to realize the rest does not equate to “giving up.” Rest is having enough wisdom and emotional intelligence to recognize you’re in need of time to heal and regroup.
4. Seek Counsel or Even Counseling
Take this opportunity to reach out to those around you for an outside and more objective look into your situation. Often just speaking out loud can provide more clarity into where you are and how you’re feeling. Or take this opportunity to seek professional counseling. You may have spent years providing counseling to others but now have the opportunity to be a recipient in order to process and heal properly.
5. Begin Networking
If your plan is to find another position serving in ministry, reaching out to those in your network is one of your best options. Send them a note or email updating them on your status. Offer to treat them to a meal, and ask for their best advice. Keeping your name in their head is key at this point, and you never know what opportunities people know of until you put yourself out there.
Again, there is no magic formula to deal with being let go. Every situation is different from the next, so be sure to seek counsel from someone you trust.
This article was originally published on Vanderbloemen Search Group's blog. Used with permission.