Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How Do You Say Goodbye?

How do you say goodbye to a person who means so much to your small group? Do you maintain a stiff upper lip, smack your friend on the back, and wish him the best? Do you go sappy and recite the words of your favorite Hallmark card? Or is there another way?

One of my small groups had to say our goodbyes to a friend and integral member yesterday. He’s a gracious, kind, intelligent, wise, and faithful friend to all of us. He’s deeply committed to following Jesus—that’s why he’s leaving our small group. God is calling him to a different ministry opportunity in a different location. So we were forced to say our goodbyes over a lunch meeting.

Was it hard? Absolutely! But we didn’t tighten our upper lips. We didn’t smack him on the back. We also didn’t get sappy. Instead, what we did was pray. We prayed for his transition. We prayed for his family. We prayed for his ministry. We prayed for God to provide a new community for him to be a part of in his new city.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but we were actually putting into practice something that Jesus advises his followers to do—pray.

In his book, Make Your Group Grow, Josh Hunt unpacks the wisdom of Jesus in Chapter 10 of Luke’s gospel.

“Jesus didn’t leave us in the dark as to how to do this,” Hunt writes. “The second half of Luke 10:2 tells us, ‘So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields’…
In the next verse, Jesus said an interesting thing. ‘Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.’ Jesus told his disciples to pray, and then he told them to go. We should pray and go.”
Our friend is going. So we prayed.

How do you say goodbye?

1 comment:

Greg T. said...

Rob, Leaving is the worst. Unfortunately I have made a small cottage industry of it thanks to the military.

In the midst of obedience to God is the pain of loss. It's especially painful for my family because we try to invest as much as we can into relationships we know we'll have to leave. I often wonder if it's fair or not, but the alternative would not be following the example of Christ. Pain can be sanctifying and we have not been called to a life of ease. I often wish it were the case.

I have a friend who coined the term goodbye relationships and I like it and it challenges me. A goodbye relationship doesn't have to be defined by the goodbye.