The American men’s relay team is an Olympics powerhouse. Since 1920, it has won gold medals at 15 of 21 Olympics. It did not do so in the 4×100 relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, however. Rather, it disqualified when Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay dropped the baton as they headed into the fourth leg of the race.
When it comes to transitions between pastors and their successors, a lot of churches drop the baton. The reasons for this are various: lack of planning, poor choice of successor, the inability of a predecessor to let go of the ministry, unforeseen crises, etc. Whatever the reasons, Tom Mullins thinks churches can a better job of passing the leadership baton. In this book, he coaches pastors how to lead their churches through their own transitions.
Mullins’ advice can be summarized in eight action steps:
- Lead through transition.
- Keep the right perspective.
- Prepare for the win.
- Select and prepare your successor.
- Position yourself for success.
- Position others for success.
- Lead through crisis-driven transitions.
- Create a legacy.
Mullins devotes a chapter to each action item. His advice is practical, experience-derived, and simply and winsomely written. Throughout the book, he reflects on how he transitioned leadership of Christ Fellowship, a multisite church in Florida, to his son Todd. He also cites the experiences—both positive and negative—of other churches and Christian ministries.
Near the end of the book, he captures the proper spirit in which church leadership transitions should take place: “Transition really comes down to being an issue of humility and surrender, if you think about it. All the practical things we’ve discussed in this book have hopefully been helpful to you as you plan with intentionality and troubleshoot inevitable issues along the way to your own transition in leadership. But the most important thing to consider is the fact God’s work is for God’s sake—not your own… When that is your realization, it forces you to a place of humility and surrender in the transition process because He alone is the priority, and His plans for His church are what matters above anything else.”
I highly recommend this book to pastors and their boards. It will be of immediate help to older ministers who are preparing to transition into retirement or other ministries in a few years. But younger ministers can benefit from reading it too. “Transition is not the only greatest test of your leadership,” Mullins writes; “it is your legacy. Transition well.”
P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.