Ten Reasons You Should Quit the Ministry

I’m a firm believer that the world needs more churches and more pastors. However, there are some pastors out there who are doing more harm to the church than good. I’ve spent the past three years trying to encourage and equip small town pastors to grow their churches, but today I want to encourage some of you to quit.

Before you get too bent out of shape, I’m not saying you should quit serving God and loving people. Every Christian should do that.

I’m just saying you should find a new occupation.

Pastoring isn’t for everyone, and if you’ve been pondering if it’s really for you, I hope these ten reasons will give you some clarity.

  1. You didn’t know what you were getting into. Look, I get it. You were fifteen years old, it was an emotional church camp, and you felt like God was calling you to preach. Now, you’re a twenty-four year old youth pastor, you’re regretting the decision, and you can’t imagine doing this for the rest of your life. Do yourself a favor and step out of the position. God will take care of filling it when you’re gone.
  1. You’re in it for the money. Ha, if people only knew. Few small town pastors will ever be able to go full-time at the church they serve. Even then, the chances of getting benefits like insurance or retirement can be slim. If you got into the ministry to make big bucks, you’re going to be really disappointed.
  1. You have a hard time loving people. People are the best and the worst part of ministry. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them, so you have to be able to take the good with the bad. If you just like the idea of preaching in front of an audience, then pastoring probably isn’t for you. You need to genuinely love people in all stages of life and with all different types of personalities and problems.
  1. You don’t have a passion to see people come to know Jesus. The heart of a pastor has to burn with passion to see people come to know Jesus. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you are serving in a church that isn’t seeing salvations and you’re not frustrated by that, then you may not need to be a pastor. If it’s been a long time since you’ve personally invited someone who doesn’t know Jesus to your church, then you probably don’t need to be a pastor. Evangelism has to be a priority in your life and the life of your church.
  1. You can’t handle criticism. Every leader has to deal with criticism. Pastors don’t get a pass on this. God’s people have been perfecting the art of criticism for hundreds of years. Many pastors have been chewed up and spit out by “well-meaning” Christians. If your feelings get hurt easily, pastoring isn’t for you.
  1. You can’t handle praise. For some pastors, praise is more dangerous than criticism. They feed off of praise, and their ego gets bigger and bigger. This causes them to have an inflated view of themselves, which makes it impossible for them to connect with their congregation.
  1. You don’t enjoy it. Maybe you did at one time, but now it’s more of a burden to you rather than a blessing. If you find yourself dreading showing up to church on a Sunday morning, it’s probably time for you take a break and get some counseling.
  1. You’re not willing to learn and change. Ministry is constantly changing, which means pastors have to be willing to learn and change in order to reach more people. Unfortunately, many small town pastors continue to refuse to change even though their churches are dying.
  2. It’s time to pass the baton to someone else. Some of you have led very successful ministries for a number of years, but the time has come to step aside and let someone new take over the ministry. As we get older and our health begins to fade, we are no longer as effective as we once were. The best thing you can do is to ensure a healthy transition for the next pastor.
  1. It’s destroying your family. Unfortunately, we are seeing this happen more and more. You can be very successful in ministry and lose your family. Your primary responsibility is to love and serve your family. Don’t let the church take you away from that. If your family doesn’t love the church you serve, it’s probably time to walk away.

I hate to see any pastor quit, but sometimes it’s necessary for their health and the health of the church they serve. I also believe it’s necessary for the church as a whole. Jesus reminds us that for a tree to bear the best fruit, some of the branches that aren’t producing have to be pruned.

Have you ever questioned if you should be in ministry? Let us know about it by leaving a comment below, and if you’re ready to turn around your small town church around read my new ebook or contact me about coaching options. Also while you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership and more delivered to your inbox each week.

What to Do When Your Hands are Tied?

Recently, I wrote a post about the need to fire staff and volunteers who may be hurting your church. This seems to be a big issue in many small town churches, but as one pastor reminded me, it’s often out of their control. In many churches, the pastor has very little power to do anything more than teach and preach God’s word. Everything else is handled either by a congregational vote or by a committee who may have a vision for the church that’s very different from the pastor’s.

So, what do you do?

A couple of ideas come to mind.

  1. Find another church to pastor that will allow you to lead.
  2. Plant your own church. Remember, it’s easier to give birth than raise the dead.

But, what if you don’t want to leave? You may really love the church and community you’re serving, you may feel God has called you there for a reason, or you may just need the salary they’re paying you.

What do you do then? Here are some thoughts.

Learn to be patient. A church that has been doing things the same way for years won’t suddenly decide to change just because you showed up. Realize this is going to take some time. Sometimes the best strategy may be to try to outlive those who are currently there.

Build relationships. Even with the people who oppose you. This is difficult, and sometimes not beneficial, but occasionally, you will win someone over if you take the time to care about him or her. Before you try to get a church to change, prove to them that they can trust you and you’re in it long-term.

Change what you can. It’s easy to get caught up in what you don’t have the power to change. Instead, focus on the things you can change. These may be very small things like church décor or even landscaping. It could be what curriculum you use for children’s ministry or Sunday school. Get out the church’s constitution and bylaws and figure out what you can change.

Focus on your family. The most important ministry you have is in your home. Spend time loving your spouse and kids. They should never feel like the church comes before them. Sometimes we think being a pastor means we’re always on the clock. That doesn’t need to be the case. The church can easily replace you. Your family cannot.

Pray. I still believe in the power of prayer. Prayer can sometimes move someone out of a position that doesn’t need to be there, and prayer sometimes moves you out of a church that’s unhealthy for you. Either way, prayer keeps your eyes focused on Jesus.

Having trouble transitioning a church and need someone to talk to? Visit my contact page and send me an email. I’d love to help or just be there as someone you can vent to. I’ve been in that position before, and sometimes it helps just to talk to someone who’s been through it.

More Churches Should Be Like Danny Tanner

Did you ever watch Full House growing up? Not the recent reboot, but the original with Danny Tanner, the father of three young girls who was trying to raise them with the help of his family and friends. A lot of the episodes had a similar theme to them. Throughout the episode one of the girls would be dealing with some sort of issue that comes with growing up, and at the end of each episode, either the dad or one of the other characters would be in the kids’ bedroom sitting on the bed trying to help them navigate the ups and downs of life. After eight years of fatherhood, I can now say I’ve had one of those moments.

My eight-year old daughter had a school project that she was really excited about. The project was to recycle things like cardboard boxes and plastic bottles and make something useful out of them. She had decided to make a claw that could pick things up from far away.

Unfortunately, she had been working on the project for three days at school, and it wasn’t coming together. She wasn’t allowed to bring it home, and the teacher had told them, once they started it, they couldn’t switch to something else. Oh, and they only had one more day to finish it.

I didn’t know these details until the night before. As I sat on my daughters’ bed to do our normal nightly prayers, my eight-year old didn’t want to pray. When I asked her why, she started filling me in on all the details and tears started to stream down her face. This project she had been so excited about, now had become the source of her greatest pain.

I had never seen my daughter filled with so much anxiety and fear. Her tears quickly turned to sobs, and nothing I said was making her feel any better. I quickly discovered this wasn’t about a failed project, it was about the fear of being judged.

In her mind, she was going to fail and everyone was going to make fun of her. They had already been asking her what her project was supposed to be, and this had embarrassed her. Their projects were coming together, and hers wasn’t. To make matters worse, the projects were going to be displayed outside the room for everyone to see. So now, not only would her classmates be making fun of her, but the rest of the school would be as well.

I told her not to care what anyone says or thinks, but she does. I told her everyone fails sometimes, but she never had. I told her it was going to be ok, but she didn’t believe me. In that moment I saw her as broken as she’s ever been, and my heart broke for her.

Every bit of it was because she was worried about what others may say or think about her.

And as I thought back upon what she was going through, I couldn’t help but think about broken people and their view of the church. Their fears of being judged, and their fears of what people may say or think about them. And how those fears many times keep them from experiencing the love of Jesus.

My daughter didn’t need me to tell her she messed up. She didn’t need me to say you should’ve known this wouldn’t have worked. She didn’t need me to say you should’ve told us sooner. She needed me to love her and to show her a better way.

So, that’s what I did.

And that’s what so many churches need to do a better job of.

That night we all got out of bed, we found some sturdier cardboard, we modified the design, and I gave her the tools to make it work. Danny Tanner would’ve been proud. The next day she came home with a smile on her face, and a little closer to her father.

Let’s hear your Full House story. Tell us about a time you shared love in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get emails on church leadership, growth, and sappy dad stories delivered to your inbox each week.