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How Eric Geiger is processing leaving Lifeway and his new call at Mariners Church

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Last Sunday, Eric Geiger had his first Sunday as the new Senior Pastor of Mariners Church. Just before this, Lead Navigator Bryan Rose spent some time with Eric talking through his transition from Lifeway and taking on this new call.

We alway love sharing what we’re learning at Auxano, and this is one of our favorite pieces of that interview. So let’s jump right in. (Or you can listen to the whole podcast here.)

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(Eric Geiger served as the Senior Vice President of Lifeway and recently left to become the new Senior Pastor at Mariners Church. He’s taking over for Kenton Beshore, who was the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church since 1984.)

Eric Geiger: One of the things the Mariners Team has been open about in a healthy way and putting it on the table, is holding two emotions simultaneously. One is grieving the end of an era with Kenton (not that he’s leaving but with him being the Senior Pastor), while simultaneously holding excitement for the future.

And I get it. Because I’m having the same emotions.

I’m grieving the loss of a team that I love and I’ve built here at Lifeway. So I’m grieving, but I’m also excited about the future. Holding that together at the same time...man, it’s been challenging, but it’s also been a blessing. Watching them love Kenton, some pastors might be put off by how much they love Kenton, but what about the flip side? That they would bash him? The flip of them bashing Kenton is that they are just going to bash me one day!

Because of the love and respect they have for him, I don’t view this as, “Oh man, this is going to be hard for me.” I view this as, “Thank God there’s a healthy culture where they love and respect him.”

Bryan Rose: Is there something you’re learning in your own walk with God that might be transferable to another pastor whose time is coming to and end? Or even for someone who might be stepping in, coming behind a well-loved leader?

A word the Lord gave me as I’ve been praying about this is actually in the book of Joshua. I started reading the book when I knew we’d be teaching through it [at Mariners Church] this fall, even before we’d made the final decision to go become the pastor there.

I was wrestling with leaving unfinished work in my current role. I feel guilty. I really sense the Lord is leading me to go, but right in the middle of some really big things. Some really big projects.

Joshua 13:1 finds him old in age and there’s some unconquered territory. So essentially, there’s always going to be unfinished work. Always unconquered territory. So just because there’s unconquered territory doesn’t mean you’re not finished.

The Apostle Paul says, “I fought the good fight. I finished the race. I have kept the faith.” It doesn’t mean every single person on the planet had been reached. But he had finished his role. His responsibility.

It was just a real liberating passage, a freeing passage, to process both Kenton’s transition and mine. There’s still unconquered territory in Orange County, but that doesn’t mean that Kenton hasn’t finished well. I finished well, even though there’s unconquered territory.

It’s just a good reminder that the Lord doesn’t need any of us. The unconquered territory just shows us that we aren’t God. Only he is the one who ultimately fulfills the mission and the ministry.

Even after I die, there will still be unconquered territory. Only when we are with him forever. We feel like we should be able to do everything. I’ve struggled with that.

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To listen to more of Eric’s reflections on his time at Lifeway, leadership lessons and his transition to Mariners, you can listen to the whole podcast here. If you do, make sure to subscribe so you never miss incredible interviews like this one.