“I quit!” – when to accept a resignation


quitI was a young assistant minister, and I’d been left in charge.

The minister was away on sabbatical, and I had been given the keys of the kingdom.  It wasn’t my first day there – in fact, I’d been there for three years already, and he had been quite straight and trusting.  I was in charge, and he trusted me to make the right decision.

I blew it.

A few Sundays into my responsibility, someone threw a hissy fit and resigned.  I was unprepared for the problems that his absence was going to cause, so I begged him to withdraw his resignation, and pleaded with him to stay. He did.

When the minister heard, he was furious.  “I’ve been trying to get rid of him for years, and now you’ve made him stronger, and our position weaker.”

He was quite right.

When do you accept a resignation? Always.

Why? Because it’s just possible to rehire the same person if you need to, and establish some more proper boundaries.  But it’s almost impossible to get rid of someone once they’ve threatened to go and you’ve asked them to stay.

And if someone is using the threat of resignation as a bargaining tool, you don’t want that person hanging around in ministry, poisoning the atmosphere. That is not mature Christian character.

As Jesus said, in our dealings with each other we need to be straightforward and truthful: let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’.

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4 comments on ““I quit!” – when to accept a resignation”

  1. Chris,
    Thanks for the great advise. Within a month or two a warden offered their resignation I didn’t accept it. They have done it again but putting whether they resign down me – ‘do you want me to resign?’ I answered their concerns, however I I did not fall for their emotional blackmail. I’m P-in-C in three Church in CinW who have had mainly Anglo Catholic background and not used to Bible based teaching. So going through some heavy turbulence!

    1. Well done. The line: ‘I’ll resign if you want me to,’ is very hard to seize, but we often regret it if we don’t, and it becomes a habit. Especially at Annual meetings!

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