Here are some thoughts from Muthah+, blogging at Stone of Witness:
Yes, I have known this malaise. I have even left a parish without a next call--I do not recommend this. It isn't good for them and it certainly isn't good for your career.
The best advice I can give is relax! Right at the moment your head is in your next call even if you don't know what that is. You have an obligation to your present community of faith. You have fought the good fight with them. In your prayer ask for the gift to stay present to your present flock until you leave. Do your best to prepare them for that which comes next without making apparent that your are leaving. Get some advice from a professional interim or some of our RevGals on preparing the congregation for your leaving.
For you, the congregation is no longer the one to whom you are called---that is ok. We all have to preach to those to whom we are not called at times. It is also when we can be the most pastoral or the most prophetic. Your role has changed and that may give you a different way of looking at your work in the congregation. Becoming a bit more detached may just give you what you need to survive until the next call. And in your preaching remember you are not preaching TO them. You are revealing Christ to the world--that you must do whether you are called there or not.
The more intuitive in the parish will know something is going on but keep your counsel until you have been called somewhere else. A parish always feels betrayed when their pastor leaves even for retirement.
I always felt that the position of pastor or priest was always a 'flash in the pan' in the life of a congregation. So I always tried to prepare the parish for the pastor's leaving while I was still called there. It is sort of like the parent who knows that they don't get to 'keep' their children. They constantly have to be prepared to push them out of the nest. The congregation has to be constantly encouraged to take on the pastor's duties, to take on the ministry for the sake of the whole community, etc. This new work may take the edge off your wanting to be somewhere else. Meanwhile, prayers ascend.
We welcome Jan Edmiston back to the Matriarchs panel; her blog is A Church for Starving Artists:
As you are preparing to leave, this is a good time to prepare your current congregation to be led by someone new. Are they equipped to continue ministry without you? Are there specific people you might mentor to prepare them for the day you leave?
I find it helpful to pray for the unknowns: for your next congregation to be prepared to welcome you, for the next pastor of your current congregation that she/he will serve them well, and for you to carry on until that next call is revealed, that you would be prepared for your next community.
Blessings in this search.
Jennifer, blogging at An Orientation of Heart, offers a few quick, practical questions:
Have you taken all of your continuing education time? Now might be a very good time to nurture your soul with a great class, workshop, retreat or week away with some great books. If you have the time coming, I would definitely look in to taking it.
Have you made a list or written in your journal about what you do appreciate about your current call? Thinking with intention and praying about what, if anything, sustains you where you are might be a good exercise.
The Alban Institute has great publications on leaving well. And while you are discerning a new call and not yet leaving, you’re mentally preparing to leave. Reading some of their books or articles might prove to be helpful.
Do you have a spiritual director? Perhaps checking in with someone new or familiar would be helpful right now.
All the best to you in this season of waiting and wondering…
Readers, if you have thoughts to add, please share them in the comments.
We'll be back next week with another question. Could you use a word from the Matriarchs? Email us: Ask the Matriarch.