issue15 howtoknowwhenitstimeto leave

Issue #15: How to Know When It Is Time to Leave

Faithful & Fruitful Pastoring

I once heard John Piper say, in 33 years of pastoring at Bethlehem Baptist Church, there were times he wanted to leave and times he got offers to go somewhere else, but those two things never happened at the same time. Meaning, when he wanted to leave, there were no opportunities, and when opportunities came, he didn’t want to leave. That’s providence, and that was my story when I was lead pastor in Indiana for 8 years.

It’s hard to know when God is calling you to stay or go. I am assuming you’re not facing a major crisis or moral issue. If so, your situation is beyond the scope of this newsletter. I am specifically talking about those times when pastors and ministry leaders wonder if they should look for another place to serve, or they’re contemplating an offer from another church.

In that case, Thom Rainer has some great advice. He talks about the push and pull, and both need to come together for you to leave.

  1. Push. The push refers to the fact that you feel like your time is up at your church. For whatever reason, you’re done. You can’t lead them any further. They’re no longer responding to your leadership. Your desire to pastor them is gone. Whatever it is, you feel like you’d be content to leave.
  2. Pull. The pull refers to another ministry compelling you to come. That may be an actual offer. It could be a strong desire to serve elsewhere. The pull is something that makes you say, I really want to be there serving God.

There were times I had push but no pull, and other times I had pull but no push. But then in the fall of 2020, I had both. I was tired. Probably because of Covid. Probably a lot of other factors too. Bottom line, I lost the desire to pastor my church. I just didn’t want to do it anymore (that’s a big push). At the same time, an opportunity became available to serve at The Journey Church in Lebanon, Tennessee as their associate pastor. The lead pastor is a longtime friend of mine, and the work they wanted me to do, I love and am very passionate about (a major pull). Needless to say, I took the job and have been here since January of 2021.

While you’re thinking through these things, don’t forget the essential matters—prayer, Scripture, and trusted counselors. Talk things through and don’t make decisions quickly. If you’re really trying to work through things, and want someone to talk to, send me an email. I’d love to chat. I am praying for you, brother pastor. I know your job isn’t easy.

I benefited greatly from coaching, and I think you can as well. If you’re interested in pastoral coaching, check out this information page on our website. Fill out the questionnaire and give us a call. We’d love to talk more about this opportunity with you.

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