The Dramatic Quitter

Two weeks ago Jeannie Sullivan resigned as our Director of Operations. To be sure, many of you don't even know the position exists, much less who fills it. In most situations like this one, there is no benefit to celebrating a resignation and being transparent about the circumstances surrounding the separation. However, Jeannie's resignation is a story worth telling. My immediate response was to shrink in the face of Jeannie's courage. The job isn't difficult in the technical sense, it paid relatively well, and came with great medical benefits that the church provided at no expense. She could of stayed, kept her head down, met my expectations, and collected all the benefits. That's what most people do when life forces one to choose between the status quo and the right thing.

The status quo is easy to maintain when the practical benefits seem obvious. However, as you will see in the reflection below I asked Jeannie to write, Jeannie is incapable of satisfying the status quo, especially when the status quo is misaligned with her gifts. That is why I shrank; quitting a sweet gig required more courage than most of us can muster.

To be transparent about the details isn't ordinary but neither is DOWNTOWN CHURCH, and ordinary isn't Jeannie. So, read on and be inspired.

Amos pegged me as a dramatic quitter early in our friendship. And as much as I wanted to contest it, I knew it was true. One of my personal mottos is that quitting is a respectable option. Without the option to quit, why would anyone try something new?

When I first came to my position as Director of Operations, we both joked about how I wasn’t allowed to quit this one! But that was before we knew that what DOWNTOWN CHURCH really needed in a Director of Operations was not necessarily reflected in my strengths. As it turned out, coming face-to-face with personnel paperwork and financials on a daily basis quickly became something I dreaded.

Though I postponed my decision at least four weeks too long, it was a simple one to make when I got around to it: DOWNTOWN CHURCH and the staff I love so dearly deserve excellence. And deep down I knew that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice what it would take for me to become excellent at the job. Doing so would require me to put my work as a coach, my soul’s work, on the shelf for now. And pretending to be a Director of Operations instead of a coach just felt phony.

Life’s too short to pretend to be something you’re not, so I quit again. I resigned. I traded a salary and a wonderful benefits package for the freedom to grow my coaching practice. And the freedom to fall in love again with our church community and the magic that happens when I show up in joyful worship rather than squeak by on mediocrity.

So when we run into each other on Sunday morning or at the Saturday farmer’s market, let’s agree to skip the awkward moment when you try to figure out whether to say “Congratulations” or “I’m sorry.” Neither one would be quite right. Perhaps a more appropriate greeting would simply be “Welcome. Welcome back to the path that’s meant for you.”


Jeannie closing the door on her short tenure as Director of Operation made space for us to consider together if there was a place at DOWNTOWN CHURCh for her gifts to shine.

One week after resigning, I asked Jeannie to consider filling another role. It's a lateral promotion that we are quickly but earnestly building a position description for that will be that is a bold break from the status quo.

Her new title is Director of Spark Coaching and Coach in Residence. She is going to serve as a coach to the staff, develop training modules, coach individuals, support our small group leaders, and develop innovate platforms to share the wisdom we've acquired in starting a church from scratch.

Only a dramatic quitter can get herself rehired a week later for a different position within the same organization.