5 Good Reasons to Quit
Sometimes you need to quit. Walk away. Get out.
There is a lot to be said about the benefits of longevity in ministry - toughing it out, sucking it up and all that, I’ve written about it a bit myself. But, there may also come a time when you need to leave. The trick is to know when that time has come. As youth pastors (or just pastors in general) we typically have a very real love for our people and a deep sense of calling to what we are doing. Both of those are great, but they can cause us to miss or ignore otherwise obvious signs that the time has come to move on. There may be plenty more, but these are the 5 Good Reasons to Quit that I've identified.
#1 - Hidden Sin
Take a close look. Is there something in your life that you’re hiding? Something that, were it to be discovered, would jeopardize your position or your church? If so, confess, quit, and get help. If you come forward and seek to fix it the odds of you one day returning to ministry are a lot better than if you wait till somebody finds you out. I’ve seen too many ministries, marriages, and churches blown apart by hidden sin. Step out now and deal with it.
#2 - Misalignment with Vision
If you can’t get on board 100% with the direction that your church is going than you need to step down. As a youth pastor, you are a support staff that is hired to help accomplish the goals set by the Sr Pastor/board. If you find yourself unable or unwilling to do what they’ve asked of you - quit. If you choose to stay and ignore the problem, you’ll only grow bitter and risk eventually being fired anyway. If you choose to fight against it, you risk pulling the church apart. The honourable thing to do is step out and find a place to serve where you can get fully on board with the mission.
#3 - Lack of Passion
If the things that you once loved about ministry are feeling like a grind, it’s time for a re-evaluation. You may just need a break. We all get tired and even the greatest jobs in the world (like youth ministry!) have their tough seasons. But, if after a break and chance to refresh you are still grinding it out, it may be time to quit. If you stop loving it, you students will pick up on it pretty quick and your ministry will start to suffer. Get good counsel around you, pray, and seek to understand if the time has come to move on.
#4 - Toxic Leadership
Wondering what might count as toxic? Here are some examples:
- you’ve been publicly (in front of other staff/church members) reprimanded by leadership.
- you’ve had your job threatened if you didn’t do what was asked.
- Leadership has allowed church members to act abusively toward you without intervening (cowardly leadership is still toxic)
- you are constantly compared to others (past leaders, others on staff, etc)
- you feel emotionally or spiritually abused by those in authority over you.
I could go on… maybe this is worth a post of it’s own. These situations are all too common, unfortunately. Yes, we should expect better from the church. But, churches are run by people and sometimes those people are jerks. If they are, quit and go some place healthy. You deserve better.
#5 - Family Needs
Do not sacrifice your family for the sake of your ministry. It’s not worth it and never will be. You’re not putting God first by neglecting your spouse and kids. I have to remind myself that my priority list in life is as follows: God, Wife, Kids, Extended Family, Friends, Ministry. The hardest piece to remember is that my walk with God is SEPARATE from my ministry. If you’re work in ministry is threatening to pull your family apart - you need to re-evaluate. Perhaps there are changes that can be made to better balance work and family life (it’s something I’ve had to work on multiple times). Perhaps you need to go for counselling with your spouse. Look for ways to fix it, but ultimately when work and family are at odds, family needs to win.
If any one (or more) of these ring true in your life and ministry right now, get some wise counsel around, go to prayer, and seek to discern if it’s time to move on.
Are there other Good Reasons to quit that you'd add to the list?
Next time, I’ll post about 5 Bad Reasons to Quit