7 Things to Remember Before You Quit a Pastorate

Far too many pastors quit when they begin to come up against the difficulties and discouragements that come along with pastoral ministry.

When is it time for a man to seek a new call to a new congregation of God’s people? That is not an easy question to answer. There are many factors that need to be considered prayerfully and patiently while seeking much godly and wise counsel. When we find ourselves in the mire of the trenches or on the front line of the battlefield of pastoral ministry, quitting is usually never the answer. May the Lord give everyone of His servants the grace to remember the things above and trust that He is the all wise and sovereign God who has us right where He wants us.

 

While it is difficult to determine the precise percentage, almost all studies have shown that the average pastor leaves a church within the first five years of ministry there. Though reasons for this vary from situation to situation, this much we can be sure of: Far too many pastors quit when they begin to come up against the difficulties and discouragements that come along with pastoral ministry. Here are seven things that every pastor must remember when tempted to quit a particular pastoral ministry:

1. It’s Easy to Quit. In the early days of our church plant, there were many times that I wanted to quit. The challenges of church planting–while on one hand are the same kind of challenges that every pastor faces–tend to be exponentially heightened because of the lack of funds, elders, people with gifts and competition with more established churches. Whenever I felt as though I was coming to an end of myself and wanting to walk away, the Lord would bring that Proverb to mind, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10). Anyone can walk away. Our society teaches us that whenever things get old, stale or hard, just get something new. Get a new car, a new job or a new marriage. We must resist this mindset when we face complacency, trials and needs in ministry.

2. The Grass Is Really Never Greener on the Other Side. We all say that we know that the grass is not greener on the other side, but, at times, we all subtly embrace the idea that we would be happier, more effective or more secure in another setting. It’s true that we might be in such a horrendous situation that a call elsewhere would be a respite for our minds and hearts for a time. However, the reality is that the same challenges you face in your current pastorate will most likely surface in the next–in some form or fashion. Because human nature is what it is, there is an uncanny resemblance of challenges from church to church.

Ministers who are discontent because they pastor smaller congregations need to remember that a larger congregation often brings a greater number of pastoral needs and serious issues among congregants. I have a friend who pastors a church of around 1000 congregants. As we talked about the difficulties that come with a church that has grown quickly, he said, “Everyone wants the church to grow…until the church starts growing!” A growing church brings new challenges, trials and difficulties. The pressures a pastor may feel in a smaller church that is growing more slowly are magnified in a larger church growing more quickly.

Add to this the fact that in a larger, more established church, it will take 5 to 7 years for the elders to trust a younger minister. If a man has been at a church for 5 to 7 years, he has, more likely than not, gained the love and trust of many (some?) of the members. This is not something to be taken for granted. In all likeliness, if a younger minister wants to move from a smaller congregation to a larger one, he will experience the loss of trust and ministerial freedom that he has gained in the smaller congregation.

3. Never Assess Your Ministry on Monday. This ought to be self-explanatory. If you assess your ministry on Sunday evening or Monday morning, you will, do doubt, drive yourself to discouragement, doubt and depression. Spiritual warfare is generally highest on the Lord’s Day and on the following day for pastors. Most ministers beat themselves up for not preaching a better sermon and for not loving the people the way that they should have. Then there are the uncomfortable conversations that sometimes occur on the Lord’s Day

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