9 Questions to Ask Before Leaving a Ministry

Making the decision to leave a ministry is seldom easy. Even when the ministry has been difficult, departures can be painful. Before you make the decision to leave, consider at least these questions:

  1. Have I been faithfully reading the Word and praying? I realize this first question sounds like an elementary one, but it may be the most important one. If you haven’t been accustomed to communicating with God regularly via Bible study and prayer, why would you think you’d hear His voice accurately now?
  2. Do I feel both a “push” and a “pull”?  My former colleague, Dr. Tim Beougher, reminded me of this question years ago. Responding to a push from one ministry without a pull toward another may lead to making a premature move.
  3. What does my spouse say? My wife is often more patient and much wiser than I am. I’ve learned the hard way that trumping her godly opinion invites vocational anguish. God makes ministry couples a team for a reason. 
  4. Have I fully lived out my vision for this ministry?  Sometimes present-tense difficulties overshadow our future tense vision – but that doesn’t mean we’ve completed or exhausted that vision. It might be that recapturing the vision will also restore your passion.
  5. Am I willing to pray, “Not my will, but Yours be done”?  This question sounds like an easy one.  However, if you’re not willing to hear and obey God if He says, “I want you to stay right where you are,” you may not be ready to follow God anywhere.
  6. Is there a way I can expand my ministry while still rejoicing where I am? Occasionally – and sometimes rightly – leaders feel like their giftedness is limited in their setting. The opportunities today, though, to expand your influence while staying in your current leadership seat are abundant. Write a blog. Self-publish a book. Start a internship program. Develop a ministry network. Dream a bit before you decide to leave. 
  7. What do my mentors say? I’m assuming, of course, that you have others who know you well and pour into your life. If you trust them, then trust that you need to at least hear their thinking before you make a move.
  8. Is there hidden sin in my life? Unforsaken, unconfessed sin always blocks our ability to hear God’s voice clearly. Making a move without first repenting is a dangerous step; in fact, it usually means you only relocate your disobedience and guilt.
  9. If I leave, what would be my honest reason for leaving? Most of us can super-spiritualize our motivations and convince others of God’s leading – even when our reasons are much more complicated. At least be honest with yourself when you’re making a life decision.

What other questions would you add to this list?   

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