8 Reasons Pastors Stay When Ministry’s Tough

Yesterday, I posted a blog about why pastors sometimes want to quit in difficult times. Not all of the pastors I’ve talked with actually left their church, however, even when they really wanted to leave. Here are some of the reasons they decided to stay:

  1. They knew they were called to the church. In many cases, the pastors simply could not deny the way that God called them to that particular church. To leave would have been a matter of disobedience.
  2. They still had friends and family connections. I noted yesterday that some pastors wanted to leave because of the cost their family was paying. Even in those cases, though, some pastors and their families still had some deep friendships that kept them there.  
  3. They faced financial considerations. If these pastors had no place to go yet – and thus would have no income if they left – they chose to stay rather than face financial hardships.
  4. They felt their ministry was incomplete. Even in the most difficult times at their church, some pastors recognized they had not yet completed the task there.
  5. Their families were geographically close. When grandparents live near you, it’s tougher to leave; thus, you work harder to get through the tough times.
  6. They had recently called a new staff member. In some cases, pastors chose to stay because they had a new staff member – and they didn’t want to let down that staff member by leaving quickly.
  7. They were finishing a doctoral degree. Sometimes, leaving a church in the middle of degree (especially a D.Min degree that requires a project) causes a long delay in finishing the degree.
  8. They just didn’t feel “released.” In prayer, they simply had no sense that God was releasing them from the work.

From pastors you know who stayed despite tough times, what would you add to this list? 

10 Comments

  • David Kinnon says:

    This is a really tough situation to face. Each person's decision is so dependent on interpretation of God's will in the circumstances that general advice is impossible to give. From personal experience, keen interest in certain denominational initiatives, which in fact I sketched in outline, became the preserve of certain individuals who chose to ignore completely my ideas and to re-invent a wheel. I chose to disengage. Not sure of how to decide, I was relieved to have instant peace when I took that decision, even although others were minded to "advise" differently. First time I've said all of that publicly! Hope these thoughts help someone wrestling with a decision where the right decision shows the facts to be a test of faith which builds testimony and trustworthiness in the long term.

  • Anonymus says:

    All of these are so true! My wife and I are seven years in my current ministry. At this point, so haggard and battle scarred, we are not even sure we WANT to stay in church ministry! During these years we have stayed for many of these reasons – at different times. The first church split came in our 2nd year – so more 1, 4, 8. Things improved and had just brought on new PT staff and placed new volunteer leaders when we had anther opportunity to leave…so we passed. But, now that we KNOW it is time to go, it is # 3. Though we have never had a raise or offer of benefits (we have none and have never been offered any) in the 7 years we have served here we can’t just leave without another opportunity. At this point we are even applying for secular employment just to get out of this very bad situation.

  • Randy Frye says:

    I felt a calling to the community as great as my calling to the congregation. Ultimately that was not appreciated by a faction in the church that wanted me gone.

  • Alex says:

    The author’s comments are well articulated and, while many describe our little church’s situation, I could no longer stay. My wife and I planted this church, we cried and prayed over this church, we spent 6 years devoting our time, resources, energy, and attention trying to establish this church. I worked a second full time job to finance this church, but, in the end, it seemed as though God was saying to step away and close the doors…which we finally did last Sunday. Obedience is hard…but always required. It is painful. It is lonely. It is defeating, isolating, frustrating, debilitating, and … As much as my head told me stay, my heart told me it was long past time to let go. I know God says nothing is done in vain when done for Him in His name, but it sure doesn’t appear that way right now. I know God says He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, and I am trusting His truth stands firm in the middle of my painful struggle. I reached a point, while preaching through Hosea recently, where I realized that we were Gomer and we had no intention of repenting and returning to our Husband in order to fulfill His desire of a restored relationship; therefore, I had to decide if I could accept the fact we felt good about ourselves continuing to meet (much less than 20 regularly) or if God was serious about reconnecting a world who is one breath away from an eternity in hell. I made my decision and walked away, closing the doors behind us. Now I’m lost. No sermon preparation needed. No church to call home. While I sat in the church building Monday morning remembering the dream and grieving the present, I walked away trusting God for the future. I may never stand in a pulpit again, and that’s OK – if that s what God wants, but I will still be praying for all churches to recognize our God-given mission to reconnect those far from Him with Him so they can spend eternity next to Him.

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