Sometimes we end up in situations that just don’t seem to be working for one reason or another.
So the question becomes, should I stay or should I go?
It’s a hard question. Typically those of us who serve in full-time ministry do so because we are passionate it. It’s not just a job. And the relationships we’ve built! How do we answer that question?
When considering leaving your ministry position, here are a few questions you can ask to help you get the answer to the big question as to whether you should stay or should go:
1. Is it a God-thing?
First and foremost, are you called to be at the church you are currently serving? If so, the conversation about leaving is over. You may need to have conversations with leadership in the areas mentioned below, but if you are called by God to be there, you shouldn’t really be asking the question any longer. Remember, God never promised that His calling would be easy, comfortable or, even, fulfilling.
On the other hand, if you sense, for whatever reason, that your time is up, or that He is moving you to a new role somewhere else, you need to prayerfully consider the ramifications to your ministry, your family and yourself. And be sure not to use “calling” as an excuse to move from a difficult situation. I would encourage you to try to solve the problems first, then leave…that way you know you are not just running.
Discerning God’s call is the most important aspect of staying or going.
2. Is it a culture thing?
Have you ever found yourself just not fitting in? You thought it would be great, but you just don’t think like the people around you. Perhaps you’ve landed yourself in a culture that just isn’t you. I’ve seen this often when someone takes a position in a completely different part of the country – a San Diego boy takes a position in Tennessee; a gal from Texas takes a role in Connecticut.
It could also be that the culture is a denominational thing, or a certain style of church that just doesn’t fit your skill, abilities, and style.
3. Is it a leadership thing?
“Everything rises and falls on leadership” according to John Maxwell. Are you bumping up against the leadership ceiling in your church? Or is there such a lack of leadership that you are continually frustrated and held back?
First, try to “lead up”. But if there is complete lack of growth from your church leadership and that, in turn is squelching your own growth, then it may be time to consider new options.
4. Is it a skill thing?
Are you in over your head? Often times we find ourselves in this position. That’s not a bad thing, as long as we are willing and feel we are capable of growing in to the role as quickly as we need to. However, if you believe you’ve taken too big of a step and simply can’t keep up or are unwilling to do what it takes to learn to lead well, then it might be time to move on.
If you do think you can grow in to the role, then aggressively pursue the growth you need. It’s an investment -usually of time and money – but it will be well worth it in the long run.
5. Is it an passion thing?
Are you burned out? Are you distracted? Are you not walking with God in the way you should? Are you facing challenges in some area of your life that seem overwhelming?
Any of these can rob us of our passion for leading the ministry in the way that we should be leading it. It might be that you need to find a way to take time away to deal with whatever is going on, or it might be that you need to find a way, while continuing to lead, to focus on rekindling the passion. Rarely is either of these options done alone. Hopefully you serve under leadership that you can truthfully speak with about where you’re at, and together find a solution that serves the church and your needs.
6. Is it a family thing?
Is your spouse not on board with what you are doing? Are there family issues that you are needing to deal with (maybe a child needs more of your attention, or your parents need assistance in another part of the country)?
In my last church, I was working 6 or 7 days a week, spending 4 or 5 evenings per week at the church, and it came to a minimum of 60+ hours per week. I had a difficult departure from that church, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened as far as being a Dad. My boys were just heading in to high school and junior high, and for the next 5 years as I consulted in my own business, I had all the flexibility in the world to be Dad when I needed to be Dad instead of always being the servant to the needs of the church.
Maybe you just need to be Mom or be Dad for awhile, or husband or wife, without the demands of ministry.
7. Is it a money thing?
Churches are notorious for paying poorly. And my experience in working with hundreds of churches is that they are especially cheap when it comes to compensating those leading in Children’s Ministry. Don’t get me started on this, but let me just say that it’s wrong for a church to do this. As a spouse and parent, you have every right to expect the church to compensate you adequately. If they are unwilling to, then you have every reason to consider other options. You are responsible for your taking care of your family, period. You should be able to do this in a reasonable manner, without taking second or third jobs to make ends meet. If you choose to give yourself to the church at a less than reasonable rate, then that’s your choice. It should not be an expectation of the church that you should do so.
So what’s it going to be?
Are you called to the place you are serving, or to another place? After that, what circumstances are causing you to consider a change? Can they be fixed, or are they fatal? I would encourage you to pull together 2 or 3 wise leaders/friends, who are safe to share this with, and work through questions like these as you consider your options.
How have you decided to stay or go?
(please share in the comments below)