Exit Strategy

Huffington PostOver the weekend it was announced that the Huffington Post was selling to AOL for $315 million. The press release will reassure fans that the change in ownership won’t change the core of the business. But it will.

The only party who really believes that nothing will change is AOL.

From now on a line has been drawn. There will now be three audiences. Those who loved the Huffington Post before the sale. Those who became fans after the sale. And those who have transcended their love of the Huffington Post through the transition.

And things will change among the team there, too. They have played their card. The exit strategy now lives in their bank account.

Why? Its tough to go back to a job in the same way and work for thousands when you know you have millions in the bank. Certainly, they will go back to work. And they will try their hardest to work in the same way as they always have. But everything will slowly change as the fight changes from “beating the man” to “becoming the man.”

People in ministry know exit strategies, too well

We live in a low-trust, highly transient culture. Everyone has a price and everyone has dreams that include not working where they work or living where they live. (Some will shake their head and swear it isn’t so. But deep down we all know its true.)

The dirty little secret of the American Dream is that it implants a deep seeded dissatisfaction with our current situation and a heads-up mentality that to succeed you might need to go where the grass is greener.

And people in ministry are quick to make moves. I rarely meet a staff person who isn’t willing to at least feel out another opportunity somewhere else.

Let’s be blunt: This kills your ministry.

While people who are in your ministry don’t know that you are passively looking, you exude a mentality that people pick up on but can’t quite articulate. It’s like they walk into your office and smell something but can’t quite put their finger on what it is.  But if they looked under your desk they’d see boxes ready to be shipped off somewhere else.

And then when you play your exit card… it all clicks. They knew you were a fake all along.

What people need

2008-2010 taught people that the American Dream is largely a lie. We learned that you can’t mortgage your way to wealth. We learned that companies have no loyalty to employees. We learned that more education doesn’t guarantee you lifetime employment. We learned that corporations can steal houses from hard-working families. And we learned that the next generation will likely not be wealthier or more educated than their parents.

This has knocked our country off its equilibrium. It has forced Americans to do very un-American things like reject the notion that all people are equal. (Core to the health care debate) Or the central theme that our nation is built on accepting immigrants. (Rejection of the DREAM Act and all forms of immigration reform) I could go on… but it’s not the point of this post.

We need bedrock. We need leaders in our community who have hitched their horse in our neighborhood. Who declare that they won’t leave our community. We need the talents, voice, intelligence, passion, and tenacity of church leaders who see themselves as ministers to the community at-large and not just the few who pay their rent.

We need activists. We need leaders who will stand up for the rights of the minority in our communities and hold their hand in the public arena in Jesus name. We need people who have stood the test of time and been the pain in the neck of the good old boys for long enough to see real change.

We need retirement parties. We need leaders who are willing to stick it out for their career. Who aspire to have a street named after them more than a book with their name on it. We need leaders who recognize that long-term ministry means good times and bad times. We need leaders who recognize that their role may morph. We need leaders who dream that one day they will be recognized for 40 years of service with a cake and a party. (And maybe we won’t be, and that’s OK, too.)

That’s where church leadership will be in 20 years. The question for you is simple: Will you be here in 20 years or will you be doing something else? It’s up to you.





2 responses to “Exit Strategy”

  1. Matt C. Avatar
    Matt C.

    Adam, I am seriously weeping at my desk here, reading this post (actually not literally, but wow!). Such a very, very accurate description of the current cultural climate in America and a great connection to how it affects “professional” church workers and church life.

    I’m trying to be a “stayer” and continue hitching my horse in my community and congregation and you just gave me a HUGE adrenaline shot to continue doing JUST THAT! Thanks, brother!

  2. Brian Aaby Avatar

    Thought provoking and a blog I will be passing on to the two networks I meet with this week. So much more on this subject can be developed; elders, pastors and parents need to be aware of this mentality as they are part of the reason the “exit strategy” pops up often as early as the YP arrives.
    Thanks for the post brother!

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