Yesterday, I dealt with some “positive” signs that it may be time for pastors to leave their churches. Today, I talk about some negative signs to consider.
- The salary the church offers simply can’t provide for your family. I seldom recommend making a decision based on salary, for fear that it suggests not trusting God; on the other hand, the line between trusting God and hurting your family can be a fine one indeed. You are responsible for taking care of your family.
- You’ve lost the confidence of leaders because of poor decisions. It happens – and young leaders are especially susceptible here. Leaders make what they believe at the time are good decisions, but they really aren’t the best for the church. After a while, the task of regaining the confidence and trust of other leaders is almost too daunting and time consuming.
- Despite your best efforts, deep-seated movers and shakers (who, often, are themselves undiscipled) are not on board with your leadership. No leader should reach this conclusion hastily – certainly not without strong, intentional, patient leadership to get others on board – but some lay leaders remain entrenched, with no intention to allow any leader to change their congregation.
- Godly leaders believe the church needs new leadership. With this sign, everything rides on the word “godly.” If leaders whose spiritual walk I genuinely trust believe it is time for me to step aside, I hope I would not ignore their combined spiritual wisdom.
- You no longer support the church’s fundamental doctrines. In my own Southern Baptist tradition, the churches I’ve pastored affirmed the Baptist Faith & Message doctrinal statement. They hired me knowing that I, too, affirmed that document. If I were to change my position on those doctrines, I would feel compelled to be honest with the congregation that hired me when I believed differently.
- The church has taken an unbiblical position despite your leadership. If the church reaches a conclusion you believe is unbiblical in spite of your leading otherwise (e.g., teaching that Jesus is not the only way to God, or refusing to deal with blatant sin), you likely cannot lead further without continual conflict. Even your attempts to change their minds again will be draining.
- Conflict and criticism are harming your family. I’m especially concerned about spouses and children who sometimes bear the brunt of a pastor’s daily heartache. There is nothing godly about weakening your family’s faith because you choose to “hang in there.”
- It’s time to retire. Not many pastors I know step down easily after serving a church for a number of years. I have known several, in fact, who seemingly stayed too long without an intentional transition plan – and their departure was not always positive.
What other reasons would you add to this list?