In “White Christmas”, Bing Crosby croons, “What do you do with a general when he stops being a general?” For him, it was questioning how to honor a man who is no longer given the chance to do what he’s trained his whole life to do.
It’s a question many have today when men and women who’ve contributed well to their organizations choose to pull back for the purpose of allowing younger people to rise to the occasion of the current challenge. Not an easy task; stepping down is not something many can do well because it’s walking away from position, maybe influence, possibly power.
But when it’s done with commitment and passion, it becomes a celebration of what has been and what can be.
My friend Ellis Goldstein has been working in a position in our organization for decades. He’s created systems and motivations that everyone in our outfit has used and profited from. He’s developed an expertise in fund development that other organizations are using. He has a gift in working with people to help move them forward in reaching their goals.
He’s chosen to hand the baton to the next generation. A bold, brave move for anyone.
We had a celebration to honor Ellis for what he’s done, how he’d lived, and what he was choosing to do with his future and the future of others. Those whom he’s given leadership to over the years came up with a list of words they felt described him well.
Faithful. Humble. Gracious. Kind. Encouraging. Compassionate. Leader. Dedicated. Honest. Dependable.
Words that anyone would love to be descriptive of them. Words that reflect a depth of character.
I’d add another to that list. Genuine.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing Ellis since he and his family first moved to Orlando. He was “that guy” that was going to help everyone with personal fund development. Not a man of great physical stature, I learned quickly he was a man of great heart.
He lost his daughter in a car accident a few years after they moved here. He and his wife Colleen moved on, in pain and loss. He was faithful to love his wife, faithful to do his job. A year and a half ago he lost his wife to ALS.
He has moved on. Faithful and full of faith.
He’s authentic about his losses, his loneliness. He’s truthful about what this journey has cost him.
Ellis has walked with God for years, and he knows what it means to experience mercy and grace in the midst of heartache and loss.
And he’s done his job with excellence.
My friend isn’t retiring. He’s taking a step back to let others learn how to work with excellence. How to accept a challenge and finish well.
It’s not just a job. It’s the choice to walk with God through the good times and the hard. To be a person of integrity who can reflect the character of God.
That’s my friend Ellis.
Generals don’t just quit.
They’re given the chance to reflect truth and value greater than themselves.
God hasn’t finished their story.