When People Leave You

I’ve been sitting on this post for a long, long time but I felt like I was supposed to share it this morning so here you go.

The great preacher, T D Jakes, once said something that I think about often.

There are people who can walk away from you.  And hear me when I tell you this!  When people can walk away from you, let them walk. I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you.  When people can walk away from you let them walk.  Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.  The Bible said that, “They came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us.” [1John 2:19]  People leave you because they are not joined to you.  And, if they are not joined to you, you can’t make them stay.  Let them go.

And it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, it just means that their part in the story is over.  And you’ve got to know when people’s part in your story is over so that you don’t keep trying to raise the dead.  You’ve got to know when it’s dead.  You’ve got to know when it’s over.

Let me tell you something.  I’ve got the gift of goodbye.  It’s the tenth spiritual gift.  I believe in “goodbye”.  It’s not that I’m insensitive or uncaring, it’s that I trust.  I know whatever and whomever God means for me to have and be a part of my life He will give.  And, if a relationship takes too much sweat I don’t need it.  Stop begging people to stay.  Let them go!!

The truth is that if you’re a pastor you become an expert at watching people leave.  It just happens.  Sometimes people leave because of job opportunities.  Sometimes they leave because they’re mad about something.  Sometimes it’s just time for them to move on.  Regardless of the reason, as a pastor you get to see a lot of people leave.  (The upside is that you get to see a lot of people arrive too!)

I can tell you that every time someone leaves, even for the right reasons, it hurts.  I once believed that this was something that I would get used to over time but I don’t think you ever really get used to it.  Bil Cornelius, pastor of the Bay Area Fellowship, once told me that it never gets any easier.  That floored me.  His church is huge and if he still feels it then I guess I always will.

So, what do you do when people want to leave?  Whether they are leaving your church, your company, or your life, what do you do?  Well, I think Bishop Jakes hit the nail on the head.  As hard as it might be, just let them go.  Talk with them or pray with them if they’re interested in that sort of thing but don’t spend any energy trying to convince people into staying with you when they are sure then want to leave.

You just have to trust God in all this.  You have to trust Him to take care of them.  You also have to trust Him to take care of you.  God doesn’t need them to do what He wants to do in your life.  He’s also big enough to take care of them.  Just let them go and let it go.  Trust God and just say goodbye.

19 Comments

  1. this is a masterpiece AND it’s why I keep urging you to KEEP ON BLOGGING Brother Tony! Yea!

  2. this is a masterpiece AND it’s why I keep urging you to KEEP ON BLOGGING Brother Tony! Yea!

  3. Tony,
    I really needed to read this tonight… several of my key leaders at FUSIONchurch (in Atlanta) are leaving (for good reasons) and it hurts, not just because of the leadership vacancy they leave behind but because these are good friends, people I love deeply and I’ve been sharing my life and ministry with for 4 years.

    I’m usually pretty good about letting people go and moving on, but sometimes it is really tough when they are people that are closer than your own family – they are friends who have become family.

    Thanks for posting.

    • Chris, I’ve been a pastor for a long time and I can tell you that it always hurts and it never gets any easier. You’ve just got to lean on God and trust Him during those times. Also, try to focus on the folks that have stayed. Invest in them and love on them. God will send you new leaders to replace the ones that left.

      Praying for you, bro.

      Tony

  4. Tony,
    I really needed to read this tonight… several of my key leaders at FUSIONchurch (in Atlanta) are leaving (for good reasons) and it hurts, not just because of the leadership vacancy they leave behind but because these are good friends, people I love deeply and I’ve been sharing my life and ministry with for 4 years.

    I’m usually pretty good about letting people go and moving on, but sometimes it is really tough when they are people that are closer than your own family – they are friends who have become family.

    Thanks for posting.

    • Chris, I’ve been a pastor for a long time and I can tell you that it always hurts and it never gets any easier. You’ve just got to lean on God and trust Him during those times. Also, try to focus on the folks that have stayed. Invest in them and love on them. God will send you new leaders to replace the ones that left.

      Praying for you, bro.

      Tony

  5. I really needed to know this. For some time now, I have been really upset because of a friend of mine. He used to always be there for me, making me trust him blindly, he became my best friend. He suddenly started talking less and less to me, he said nothing was wrong, and we have talked about the situation many times now, because I was always upset about it, I couldn’t understand what had I done wrong that had caused this. We would make plans and out of the blue he would cancel them because something else came up, or he just couldn’t show up and I always kept forgiving him because I really wanted for him to be there. I really wanted to give him the chance to be there, like he once did. Now, I had kind of accepted that idea of letting him go little by little, and started talking less to him and then he promised he would come to visit me, like the old times. I was waiting and waiting for him, he never showed up. I thought maybe he had a really good reason and waited for him to explain. He never did. I saw him the next day, which is today, and he didn’t even say a word to me about it. Nothing. I think this really has opened my eyes and made me realize it is time to finally let him go, and stop asking him to stay if that is not what he wants.

  6. Also, I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, but I know that the moment he decides to come back and look for me, grow up and be the person I want him to be, I think I will be waiting for him. But also, there is another part of me that has completely absorbed everything that has happened from the beginning til’ now and it tells me I can’t wait any more. That things can’t be happening around him, at his time. And I have to completely let him go, for good.

  7. I don’t know who Pastor TD JAkes is.
    But, this sermon came from PASTOR JOEL OSTEEN!!!!!

    “The people that walked away are not tied to your destiny”
    “God, I know that you have a plan for me to go forward.
    If you allowed this person to leave my life.

    LET THEM GO.

    Don’t talk people into staying that want to leave.
    They’re still gonna go, whether it’s a week, a year.
    Delaying the inevitable.

    When God is done with something, there’s no amount of super glue that will hold it together.
    Gift of “good-bye”
    Them leaving you is God giving you a gift.

    You want people who are supposed to be there.
    You don’t have to manipulate them to stay.

    When God joins people to you.
    You don’t have to play up to them.

    You cannot keep people like that happy.
    If they’re not talking about you now. They’re going to talk about you later.

    My time is valuable,
    to try to keep people happy, that are never going to be happy.

    No matter what you did, no matter how hard you try.
    They’re going to find some reason to complain.
    Some reason to find fault.
    A new problem to fix.

    “They went out from us. Because they’re not apart of us.”
    When someone leaves your life, they’re no longer apart from your destiny.

    They’re time in your life is over.
    God is going to bring people that are not just with you, but for you.

    Be your best each day and God will bring you divine connections.

    God will always bring the right people in you life, but you got to let the wrong ones, walk away.
    If you don’t let the wrong ones go, the right ones will never show up.

    You don’t need them to make up for what you’re lacking.
    Don’t believe those lies.”

    -Pastor Joel Osteen
    <3

    I love him.

  8. This has also come to me at a perfect time. I’ve been hurting because of what seems like a lost friendship. This past weekend, I was at a women’s retreat and we wrote “issues that weigh us down” on pieces of sticky notes and attached them to our clothes. Then, we stripped them down and gave them up to God. One of mine was about a friend that I feel has pulled away from me. The next day, at Fusion, Tony McCollum talked about the fear of rejection in relationships and I decided to not be afraid of more rejection and reach out one more time. However, I just read Tony’s blog post and I realize I can’t convince this friend to stay in my life, and honestly, I’m tired of chasing after any of my friendships. That’s it… it’s now in God’s hands and I already feel relieved. Thanks Lori, for pointing out Tony’s blog post.

  9. Hello all,

    I have been having a hard time also dealing with a special person leaving my life. We have been involved for almost 6 years long-distance and the last two times he came to town, he stood me up. It has been so painful because he won’t even talk to me about it. The last real time that we were together was March 2012. I flew out to Colorado to visit him and after one day together (where everything seemed fine) the next day he walked right pass me in the airport like he didn’t even know me. He called in June 2012 and apologized for over an hour telling me that he really wanted me in his life, that he had plans for us, and that he wanted me to wait for him. He said that he would be coming to see me in a few months. Well, when October 2012 came, he stood me up. I have been devastated ever since. I asked him if he still meant his apology and everything he said in June and he said “yes” and then I waited two hours before I realized that he had stood me up. I tried contacting him various ways–emails, letter in the mailbox,etc. and he never responded. During Inauguration this January, he came back to my town and didn’t even call me. It has been very hard for me to let this person go because he got my hopes up so high telling me he had plans for us, promising that he wouldn’t shut down on me, promising me that I hadn’t done anything wrong. He told me that i made him happy. It’s hard for me to understand why someone would do this to me. But, it is evident that he doesn’t want anything to do with me and I have been praying that God would help me to let him go. Thank you for your article.

  10. wow this really helps a lot. I’m having the hardest time coping with some one leaveing and understanding what i feel about this. but this really helps me understand that it is ok for them to leave.

  11. Just want to start off saying I’m not religious at all. Not even a little. I did a Google search of “of someone who wants to leave you.” Your quote came up, “When people walk away from you, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you, and it doesn’t mean they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over.” It hit me! I had to stop trying and don’t get me wrong, she tried harder than anyone else and me.

    I have rapid cycling bipolar 1 disorder and at times when my blood lithium is off so are my moods. It sucks, but I try so hard to take care of myself medically being physical therapist myself. After dating my former best friend for 2 years, I had another bad manic episode. She couldn’t take it. I was there for when she was abusing her 2 kids, one more than the other. I was there for her after a horribly abusive 6 – year marriage. She was also there for me more than anyone ever had been and I love her for that. She is now the most amazing mom and one of the best people one could ever be around.

    I’ve been suicidal more than many other times in my life recently because I miss her and her 2 kids more than anything. I have found out my thyroid was really low because of the lithium so now I’m taking hormones. Your quote gives me new hope that life will go on and I greatly appreciate it just as should have her. I’ll be OK. I know this now.

    Thank you.

    John

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