• David Oaks

Your Horse Is Dead & You're Still In The Saddle: Perseveration

Updated: May 27


Most of us know what it means to persevere. No successful missionary, pastor, or nonprofit leader succeeds without persevering in the face of difficulties, obstacles and discouragement. Success requires perseverance. The greatest among us practice this daily.

But there is a place where positive perseverance becomes negative perseveration. This negative perseveration happens when we take perseverance too far.

In the nonprofit world, I recognize perseveration when leaders stay in a role, position, job or organization beyond the appointed time. At some point in the past, it was time to move on, but for various reasons the leader stayed and “persevered.”

The irony of perseveration is that when you stay too long, you get asked to leave! Selah, pause and think about that…

When the horse is dead, there is but one thing to do: GET OUT OF THE SADDLE AND FIND YOUR NEXT RIDE. Yes, SOMETIMES IT IS DIVINE TO QUIT! Even the “world’s wisest man” said so (read here).

In the last thirty-five years, I have had two ministry positions. It was tough and scary to leave them both, but leaving opened up bigger and larger opportunities for growth and impact. Leaving a role or job with an organization is actually the death of a time and season in our lives, but wise leaders know this transition is also the birthing time for something new.

Note to the wise, if the organization you are in is dysfunctional, leaving can sometimes be messy. In these situations I often say that the greatest resurrections are preceded by the most violent crucifixions. If this is you, I am truly sorry for your pain.

I remember meeting with a group of denominational pastors years ago and listening with amazement as they all lamented not having the courage to leave their dead-end positions. In choosing to stay in their roles, they abandoned the growth that only comes with risk.

How to make these transitions is the subject of another post, but my point today is SOMETIMES LEAVING ONE ORGANIZATION OR ROLE IS NECESSARY TO FIND THE NEXT OPPORTUNITY.

ANY LEADER WHO BELIEVES THEY WILL NEVER CHANGE ORGANIZATIONS OR JOBS IS NAIVE.

The goal is to avoid waiting until you are desperate. Because when you are desperate, you don’t make excellent decisions.

Perseverance, yes.

Perseveration, no.

If the horse is dead, stop fretting with him, stop striking him, stop screaming at him, get out of the saddle, and look for your next opportunity.

Hook up with me on Instagram, DM me and let me know your thoughts.

David

P.S. How do you know when it is time to leave or quit? Carie Nieuwhof wrote an excellent blog post, 7 Signs It’s Time to Leave.

https://careynieuwhof.com/7-signs-time-to-leave/

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