12 Church Leaders Who Didn’t Make It

Most of us know someone in church ministry who didn’t make it. The reasons were varied and numerous, but the results were the same: someone called to ministry didn’t fulfill a calling and complete a career in a healthy way. Here are 12 examples of leaders I’ve known that have walked this painful path:

  1. Naïve Ned. He was convinced he would not (almost could not) fall morally. Every leader I know who has not fallen has been this person on some days.
  2. Impatient Ike. This leader didn’t want to invest the years needed to see life transformation in his church. When they didn’t follow his leadership quickly and deeply, he quit leading. Literally.
  3. Secretive Steve. He was sure nobody would find out about his pornography addiction. He was wrong.
  4. Workaholic Wes. He would never have admitted to being a ministry workaholic. He didn’t, in fact, even though work stress required him to be hospitalized.
  5. Plagiarism Pete. Ask this leader, and he’ll tell you he was only seeking sermon ideas. Instead, he found a message to preach. Somebody else’s.
  6. Disappointed Dave. He was sure church work would be different from his former secular job. It was in many ways, but it was still dealing with emotionally charged, sinful people. People who should have acted differently, but they didn’t.
  7. Neglectful Nick. It wasn’t his church he neglected, though; it was his family . . . that is, until his spouse left him.
  8. Jealous Jim. In his mind, there was no reason for him not to be preaching more regularly. After all, everyone could surely see just how talented he was. Others got the roles, though, and Jim quit in protest.
  9. Bitter Bruce. This church leader became so hard and embittered toward others in his young church that he lost all his friends—and his opportunity to minister.
  10. Prayerless Paul. He was not truly “prayerless” yet, but he was headed in that direction. His prayer decreased as his experience (and his ego) increased.
  11. Debt-ridden Dan. Sure, he and his family were responsible for their debt—but so was his church that paid him so little that he was almost forced to look for some other position.  
  12. Exhausted Ed. He didn’t take care of himself physically or spiritually, but he tried to keep up with the demands of ministry. They wore him out, and he quit in order to survive. Really sad. 

If you’re headed in any of these directions, confess and pray. Seek someone to walk with you so you don’t need to walk alone. 


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