6 Questions for Couples Contemplating Succession

Denny Bellesi is one of “those guys” for me. You know the type I am talking about; the people God puts in your path to stoke a flame He lights deep inside of you. In my case, the flame is encouraging aging leaders in areas related to succession planning. Denni was one of the few older leaders that encouraged me, a 30-something at the time, to keep pursuing this issue. I will be forever in his debt for the encouragement he extended to me.

Denny planted Coast Hills Community Church in 1985. In 2004 he and Leesa made their shift from founding leaders to their next season of influence. Back in 2014, I asked Denny to write down some things to encourage other couples that are preparing to go through a retirement-based transition. His comments were so good I included them as a chapter in my book, Embracing Succession. I also thought it would be helpful to include them here as well.

Constructing a succession plan requires a significant amount of strategic and organizational thought. At its core, however, it is an extremely personal process. For example, in talking with leaders facing this issue we have found that many find it difficult to initiate succession-focused conversations with their spouses. I think back to the many discussions I had with Leesa as we began to transition away from my role as a founding pastor. I began thinking, “If we could go back in time, what questions would we ask ourselves? Could we have done things differently so that our transition felt like more of a team effort?”

From that reflection came a series of questions Leesa and I recommend husbands and wives talk through as they navigate the succession planning process together.

6 questions every pastor needs to ask their spouse as they prepare for a succession…

  1. Do you agree it is time to prepare for our succession? If not, why not?
  2. How can I honor you in this transition?
  3. What would you like to accomplish before leaving?
  4. What would it look like for us to “finish well?”
  5. What would you like the next Senior Pastor and spouse to know about this church?
  6. How can we dream together in a whole new way?

5 questions every spouse should ask themselves as they prepare for a succession…

  1. How will our children handle this transition?
  2. How has the title of “Senior Pastor’s Spouse” shaped my life?
  3. Am I ready to give up that title and that identity in the community?
  4. Where will I get spiritual input during and after this transition?
  5. Where will I call home?

Record your answers in a journal. Refer back to them often. Write specific prayers for one another. Jot down verses the Lord uses to speak to your heart. Respect one another’s privacy by asking permission before sharing your conversations with others.

Above every other priority, this is a season to fight for the health of one another’s soul. Fight well!

Denny Bellesi

 Photo by Esther Ann on Unsplash  

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