I've had the opportunity to reflect on this recently, not so much on my own beginnings & endings, but seeing others. Let me state this a little more emphatically - THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME BEGINNING ANYTHING NEW OR ENDING ANYTHING I AM PART OF - VOCATIONALLY OR OTHERWISE.
It's funny, because the fact that I have to be so explicit about this taps right into one of the main reflections I had - there is both a private and public nature to beginnings and endings. There is a huge difference between the two, and there can be some enormous consequences to neglecting one or the other, and it's usually a proper public beginning or ending. My own beginning at Liberty had both a private and public aspect. The call process began nearly two years ago when I found out representatives from Liberty's APNC would be on campus at PTS. I set up an interview, which followed with a phone interview, then a face-to-face on-site interview and then a phone call to extend the call. However, it wasn't for a number of weeks after that, where I was able to come out again and preach before the congregation, where I was officially and publicly extended a call and my ministry began.
Endings too, have both private and public aspects. If you simply leave fly-by-night, and don't deal with the public nature and give people the opportunity to say goodbye, you run the risk of causing more problems. People need closure and you can end up causing even more rumors and questions if you don't at least acknowledge the need to publicly say goodbye. Some people don't deal well with public endings and sometimes people believe that a public ending isn't necessary or deserved because of the reason for the ending. But I think this only leads to more problems. Even if all the facts don't come out in public, and are kept in private, there still needs to be a public end. If nothing else, a sign to everyone involved that an ending, a real ending, has taken place.
What this really gets down to however, is that there absolutely need to be both beginnings and endings. Whether it's geographical, relational or vocational, things begin and things end, and we need to recognize that and embrace as opposed to holding on or sticking our heads in the sand. If we don't recognize when one thing ends and another begins, we run the risk of making a situation extremely complicated. Whether it's out of fear of the unknown new beginning, or fear of letting go and ending what we've been a part of for so long, sometimes we get stuck in a situation that just isn't healthy. Also, sometimes we want to jump ship to a new beginning at the wrong time - making an awkward ending where one shouldn't be. Discernment in beginnings and endings is tough. That's why it's so important to get all that messy private stuff in line, so that when the public time comes, you know it's right. Because few things are worse than knowing that you messed up - you began something you shouldn't have, you ended something you shouldn't have, or you didn't recognize when you should've ended and now you're stuck making a fool of yourself...