Loving Transitions

I do not think I am an overly emotional person, but I recently found myself fighting back tears listening to the podcast, “The World and Everything in It”, (Episode 4.30.21). The last sixteen minutes of the podcast was a “farewell” to one of World Magazine’s reporters, Megan Basham. Among many different roles with World, Megan wrote entertainment reviews and gave movie reviews every Friday on the podcast that were extremely helpful to Sarah and me. So, I was sad to hear that she was leaving World for a new opportunity. 

What I was unprepared for, however, was the emotional send-off to Megan. Various colleagues recorded messages that were played the last sixteen minutes of the podcast. It was poignant, emotional, and touching. The love being shared was not of this world. As my burly next door neighbor likes to say occasionally to me, “it hit me right in the feels.”  

It also made me ask a horrifying question: How do we do transitions at Hoffer Plastics? Do we send people off with love, or are we bitter they are going to the next opportunity? 

Did I mention Megan is going to work for a quasi-competitor? (To clarify the new company is in the media field, but in a different lane than “Biblically-based journalism.”)

Another question I considered: Forget everyone else, do I love God enough to be open to the reality that his plans for others might be different than my preferences for them? 

I’ll be real as always. 

There are three typical reactions I have when someone is going to leave. 

  1. Relief. Let’s be honest, there are some people that are just in the wrong job. If they leave, everyone is relieved, including them. My experience suggests this is less than 10% of the time. 
  2. Somewhere between relief and sadness: This is the land of complex emotions. My experience suggests that most transitions are this one, let’s say 80%. 
  3. Pure sadness: The kind of transition that impacts your sleep for months. Or, maybe that is just my experience with one necessary transition last Spring. I am still not over it. 

Admittedly, my emotions used to change based on what kind of transition I was experiencing. In retrospect, I was too often frustrated and selfish. Rather than dealing with my complex emotions, I would rationalize things to make myself feel better. This is a fool’s errand because it does not deal with the matters of the heart. I would have been better off writing in a journal, or talking it out with someone like my wife.

Realizing this, I am asking myself a few more questions after listening to the aforementioned podcast.

Do I love people enough to want what is best for them, even when it hurts Hoffer Plastics in the short run? 

Do I trust in God enough to provide, even when the path forward is potentially dark, confusing, and scary? 

Do I idolize people? Tim Keller reminds that anything you cannot live without is by definition an idol. To a business leader, that includes people. 

These questions are instructive to me, and bring to light the kind of person I want to become. I want to be someone that embraces loving transitions. 

You might not like all my questions, so I challenge you to create your own. More to the point, I challenge you to rethink how you do transitions. 

I am accepting my own challenge. 

While I do not speak for others, I see this as a faith issue because anytime I do not love the person over my own preferences, I am failing to love my neighbor as myself. Further, anytime I lack trust, I am falling into the trap of self-sufficiency and idolatry. 

Let me be clear, I am not self-sufficient. Also, my way is most often not the best way. 

Any success of our company is not mine. I was reminded of this last Fall when we had a record month while I spent 1/4 of it with a feeding tube in my nose. I know that is a blunt assessment, but I want to be clear here. I believe the experience was one way of God gently reminding me that I am not self-sufficient, and that He is in control. 

Here are some commitments I am embracing. I invite you to do the same as we close this post:  

I commit to erring on the human. 

I commit to trusting God, even when people that I do not want to leave are leaving. 

I commit to love. 

Transitions are never easy, regardless of what category they fall in. Therefore, we have to choose how we will respond now.  

We can be bitter. 

Or, we can be loving. 

I am embracing loving transitions. 

Will you commit to doing the same? 

(Author’s note: 5 days after writing this post, I have experienced two unforeseen transition announcements. So, God was preparing me for what was to come).