Knowing When It's Time to Go
Don't panic. We're not going anywhere. I love Emmanuel and I love Florida way too much.
But sometimes when we're in ministry we reach a point where we recognize that it's time to go, that the chapter we're in is coming to a close and it's time to see what God is opening up next. Aside from the the obvious ones (being terminated or being recruited--and even those are subjective), what are some ways we can know it's time to go?
Leadership Ceiling - Sometimes a leader gets to a point where they've taken a church or ministry as far as they can go. It might be an attendance barrier, a missions ceiling, or a sending limit. But all of us recognize when we're not the best fit anymore. The flip side is when we've taken a church as far as they are willing to go. Either are ways for us to recognize a ceiling.
Unable to Follow Vision/Leadership - If you're serving in a second chair or associate role, this can affect you mostly. All of us have to serve where we serve with integrity not only personally with professionally. Part of that means serving with integrity under the leadership of a pastor or elders. When we find ourselves unable to anymore (whether they're issues of character or competence, or sometimes even personality differences), we owe it not only to ourselves but also to the church to begin looking for the next chapter.
Theological Changes - I'm not talking about nuanced issues or over really small issues. I'm talking about a church or pastor who abandons or rejects major issues of faith. And it doesn't always have to be a slide towards liberal theology. It can be over secondary theological issues where there is contention or difficulty continuing. For a lot of our churches this discussion centers around Calvinism. It's the pink elephant in the room.
Holy Angst - Many times God gives us a new burden, a new vision, a new assignment. And we recognize that we're given a "holy angst" for the burden from God. Many times it comes from someone who's served as an associate pastor who now has a longing and desire to be a lead pastor. Or it can come from someone who wants to transition from an event-driven student ministry to more of a family equipping model. That holy angst comes from a desire for us to be faithful to the calling God's given us, and for us to serve where we'll be most effective.
Ultimately the decision and longing to leave where you're serving is between you (and your spouse!) and God. Leaving for greener grass or a bigger paycheck is never what you think it is. The reason the grass is so green is because it's well fertilized. And like the 90s rap song said, more money more problems. But a God-given, God-honoring longing for greater and more effective service can be an incredible open door for ministry!
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Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.