A number of my friends are beginning to say “farewell” to careers. It’s hard to believe. I know for many “retirement” is not an issue and they will be finding something productive and challenging for the next several years, but nonetheless it’s a change and a transition. Not only are they saying farewell to work but to friends, clients, customers, donors, and people that have helped define them for so many years. For some it comes as a shock and they are unprepared. For others, they have had a plan in place and even though it is difficult they have had time to consider how they leave and what they want to say.
I have been re-reading farewell speeches lately. Very few, if any, farewells will match the poetry of General MacArthur’s farewell at West Point: “I address you with neither rancor nor bitterness in the fading twilight of life, with but one purpose in mind: to serve my country.” Some are brief and some interminable. It is the farewell address of Moses I keep re-reading.
While it could be the embarrassed farewell of a failed leader or even be bitter and angry, it is not. It is the final gesture of a man whose life was, for better and worse, tied to these people. Yet, the central message is not a reflection of his relationship with them but impressing on them they are now the carriers of God’s name and whatever they have been through has been for the purpose of preparing them for that. He is leaving the honor of God’s name in their hands. There is no going away gift from the people to him. He is instead putting the burden on them.
I know a little of what that means as I share the same name as my father. It was not always a good thing for me or for him. There were times I wanted my own name. I didn’t want his name because I was responsible for his reputation…but not by my choice. My sisters had it easier. They had their own name and reputation to worry about but I was carrying around mine and his. It was not until years later that I understood how the burden could turn into a badge and the load become a legacy. It would have been fine to be a part of the family but carrying the name was different. Like that, God gave them his name and there was no changing the assignment. They were now God’s identity and reputation in this world.
In some ways those who are saying farewell have the same responsibility. It is not enough to slip away with a “well done” and sense of having done their best. The people who are going on need to hear a challenge and know they are expected to live up to what they have been prepared to do. That is how a leader says good-bye.
|Karen||June 5, 2012, 3:35 pm|
|Wonderful insight Fred! Thank you. Farewells come in many segements of our journey. You have given good directive on how it can look and possibly should look but so often does not. Self wants the "well done" instead of the spurring others on to take the responsibility as we transiton. I like what you have discovered - keep teaching! Thanks|