Ministry is hard
Did you know the average worship leader quits their ministry position after only two years? That makes sense.
Ministry can be hard. It can be lonely, tireless, thankless, and discouraging. We can be misunderstood, underappreciated, and taken advantage of.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Even Jesus was misunderstood, mistreated, and ultimately betrayed. We follow a Savior whose life led to a cross. So following Him will likely lead us to a cross of our own.
Still, the spiritual, emotional, and physical pressures we face in ministry can often lead us to consider quitting.
A call to perseverance
Quitting a role God has called us to is not something we should take lightly. If God called us to a position we should seek to be faithful to that role until He clearly assigns us to another one.
As Paul says “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Co 15:58)
But does being steadfast and immovable mean we have to stay at our current church forever? Not necessarily. It simply means don’t quit when it gets hard. There will always be seasons when things feel hard.
Plowing is hard. Yet harvest doesn’t come without a season of plowing.
Working out is hard. Yet physical health does not come apart from it.
Hard seasons often lead to our most fruitful seasons.
Pruning always leads to more fruit.
It might not feel good in the moment, but this difficult season might be preparing your character to be one that God can use mightily in the near future!
That’s why you should “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)
So, how do we know when we’re supposed to persevere and when we’re supposed to move on?
How can we know that it’s actually time to quit?
Let me offer you some points of consideration to help you discern whether God is calling you to quit or stay in your current ministry position.
✋ You shouldn’t consider quitting if…
Did you know that most pastors resign on Monday mornings? Why? They’re tired, beat up, depleted, and discouraged. Everything looks worse when you’re tired. You just don’t have energy to put up another fight. Don’t quit when you’re tired. You might just need a vacation or an extra few days off. Get away, get some rest, and see if things look differently when you come back.
You think the grass will be greener somewhere else
Don’t quit because you think ministry will be easier or better somewhere else. It won’t. You’ll just be trading one set of problems for another. Where there are people, there are problems. And wherever you are, you’ll bring your own unhealthy tendencies as well…adding to the problems. The truth is, the grass is not greener somewhere else. The grass is greener where we water it. Instead of running away from problems, try to solve them or improve them right where God has you. Imagine how much better your ministry would be if you actively worked on solving the issues that are bothering you for the next twelve months.
You haven’t attempted to resolve conflict
Speaking of being proactive. Don’t run away from conflict without first seriously attempting to resolve it. Yes, it’s yucky. Yes, we want to avoid it. But perhaps God is trying to do something in YOU through this interpersonal conflict. Or perhaps He’s attempting to do something in the life of the person you have an issue with. Do not leave a ministry just because you’re too uncomfortable to have a hard conversation. You (and the person) will be missing out on God’s redemptive work in your lives.
You can’t move on without bitterness
Similarly, don’t leave your church until you can leave from a place of health. If you are hurt, angry, bitter, spiteful, you should not leave until you let God heal you from those emotions. You should work through your sinful emotions and get to a place of health. If you leave in bitterness you will carry that bitterness into your next situation. And trust me, it will affect all your future relationships. So work hard at healing and working past the hurt. Don’t leave from a place of weakness. Leave from a place of strength.
God hasn’t called you TO something else
Lastly, you shouldn’t leave your church just because you’re tired of being there. If God hasn’t given you a new assignment, wait and pray until He does. That doesn’t mean you can’t start searching for other opportunities. On the contrary, go ahead and seek out what might be next. But until God opens a door for you, stay faithful to where He has you. He can change everything in an instant. So be steadfast, immovable, until He gives you a clear next step.
If you’ve processed through all of those considerations (ideally with people who know you and love you), and you’re still not sure if you should quit…here are some considerations to help you discern if your time might be up.
👋 You might want to consider quitting if…
You cannot support the senior pastor’s vision
Whether you like it or not, your senior pastor was called by God to lead your church. If you cannot work enthusiastically to support his vision, then perhaps it’s time for you to leave. There should be no division in the church. The word “di-vision” means: two visions. If you and your pastor don’t see eye-to-eye and can’t work arm-in-arm, it may be time for you to leave. That doesn’t mean you have to support every decision your pastor makes. But if you are fighting against them (or disagreeing with them) constantly, perhaps it’s time for you to quit. This will make space for them to hire someone who can joyfully support your pastor.
You have made multiple attempts to resolve conflict without success
Conflict is inevitable. But if you have humbly, kindly, loving, and patiently attempted to resolve long-standing conflict multiple times without success, it may be time for you to move on. Jesus said we should forgive our brother “seventy times seven”, but he also told his disciples that if people are unwilling to change “shake the dust off your feet as you leave their city as a sign against them.” Paul says, “As far as it depends upon you, live at peace with all people.” But if the other party refuses to live peaceably with you, it may be time for you to go. Just be sure to give this a fair amount of chances. If after many, many attempts, conflict continues, it may be time for you to serve somewhere else.
You don’t feel any animosity or hatred toward the people you’re leaving
On a similar note, if you don’t feel any hatred, bitterness, or resentment towards the people you’d be leaving, then it is probably safe for you to move on. If you can leave with a genuine appreciation of the people and experiences you encountered while at your church, then you’re likely leaving from a place of health.
God has opened up a new door for you
If God has presented a new opportunity that you feel excited about, it may be a sign that it’s time to quit. Often God leads through circumstances, and if a door is open to you, it may be one that God wants you to walk through. Usually these opportunities are a good match for your gifting, calling, passions, and life (or family) circumstances. If God has opened a door, and it is safe to do so, bring your leadership into the loop and ask them to pray with you about the opportunity.
Your spouse, family, and friends agree with your assessment
Lastly, it may be time to quit your current ministry if your family and closest (godliest) friends agree with your assessment. Proverbs 11:14 says: Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. And if you have a spouse, be sure that you and they are in agreement before making any major decisions. You are (in fact) one flesh, and so if God speaks to one of you, He must confirm it in your other half. If everyone is seeing what you’re seeing, then it may be a sign that it’s time to move on.
I hope this article has helped you process whether or not you should quit your ministry position. Ask, seek, knock, and keep on asking. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
God will show you what to do. And if you do decide that it’s time to leave, make sure you honor God (and all the people involved) through the entire process.
If you want to be part of an active community who will provide encouragement, advice, support, prayers, and practical training, check out the Worship Ministry Training Academy for just $1.