Quitting the Ministry

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Jamal5000, Jul 20, 2003.

  1. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    Have you every known a pastor to quit the ministry?

    What are the most common circumstances that cause a pastor to quit?

    How do you think God views this kind of decision?


    Ice in Christ,
    J5Grand [​IMG]
     
  2. Joseph_Botwinick

    Joseph_Botwinick
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    Yes. I did (as more cheering and sighs of relief commence). You can read more about my reasons why in the Baptist Men's Private Forum. I don't have a clue how God feels about it. I do know that God has blessed my life immensely ever sense and given me many opportunities to study his word and share my faith ever sense then. Is this God saying he approves? Don't have a clue.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  3. Major B

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    According to SBC stats, lots of ministers quit or retire early. One of the more common reasons is a wife who leaves, creating a divorce situation which at least hampers ministry and in conservative circles ENDS ministry. Sometimes wives give the husband an ultimatum--"the ministry or me." Of course, some men have a moral fall which more-or-less forces them out of the ministry.

    Many more stay "in the ministry," doing supply preaching or taking on non-pastoral jobs like D.O.M. or denominational bureaucracy work, while effectively leaving the pastoral ministry behind. Again, there are lots of reasons, but I personally know of situations like this that were the result of the wife making an ultimatum.

    I have not left the ministry myself, but as far as pastoral work, I might as well have, as I've been "blackballed" in this area by my former congregation and by a "certain fraternal organization" several men from that church belong to. So, we counsel people and do supply preaching while following a secular career.

    You probably have never encountered this because it isn't the kind of thing that pastors stand up and announce--they just fade away.

    Since God is Sovereign, He always has a purpose in these situations, and He can and does reverse all of them from time to time.
     
  4. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    Wow!

    Wives actually force pastors to choose, eh?

    It sounds terribly unfair for a pastor to lose his reputation and credibility to lead a church because his wife wants to leave him.

    God Be with them. [​IMG]
     
  5. Major B

    Major B
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    It is actually fairly common. Sometimes, these men made poor choices in spouses; however, often, it is just the stress of being "the pastor's wife" and the meanness of some churches that causes these women to freak out about the ministry. It has been three years since I was forced to resign my pastorate, and my wife has been in counseling for the whole three years.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    God called me to His ministry. That has taken different roles since that day in 1963 when I was convicted of that leading.

    Being a "pastor" is just one part of the "ministry". I have also served as Professor in teaching young men to be pastors, and now, during my health challenges, in interim work.

    Have seen some men leave (many sell insurance) and it is almost always from two causes:
    *Abuse in the church - mistreated, underpaid (where the wife comes in), problems, pulpit ability questioned
    *Introspection - evaluation of ministry, recognition of failures, imperfections, sense of unworthiness and personally not living up to the standards (often the wife plays a negative role here, too)

    One just reads I Tim 3 and Titus 1 and wonders if ANYONE should be in the ministry.
     
  7. Rev. Joshua

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    It's very important for young pastors to set clear boundaries with churches about the distinction between their employment and their wife's/husband's involvement in the church. Church's often think that they're getting "two for one" - an expectation that no other employer has.

    I usually make the distinction clear by saying that I don't even expect my wife to be a member of a church where I am on staff. She can join if she wants to (and always has), but there is not expectation from me that she will.

    Joshua
     
  8. TomVols

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    Joshua,
    I bet the pulpit committees love to hear you tell them that! :D
     
  9. Rev. Joshua

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    Well, I generally use their response as a guage of the health of the congregation. It's been a long time since I interviewed at a "Moderate" church, and all of the liberal ones seem to accept this as a matter of course.

    Joshua
     
  10. KPBAP

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    Well, is "burnout" legitimate? I have been working for and with Bapists for 20 years and have seen SO MUCH that I don't have the zeal I once had. The "energy" is gone and am seriously considering leaving and going back into "the REAL WORLD".
     
  11. dianetavegia

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    We, in the south, have a saying. Some men are God called and some men are Momma called. Those who are Momma called don't last long.

    Every mother's dream surely must be that their sons be wonderful men of God, preachers, pastors, deacons, etc... but that doesn't mean God has called those men to those positions.

    Diane
     
  12. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Jamal

    I dont know many pastors/ministers who have quit the ministry, but know some that should. ;)

    In some areas and some circles, it appears that the ministry is a family occupation. I know of one family who lives not far from here were four generations (and in one generation 5 brothers) in a row were Baptist preachers, and as far as I am/was concerned, only one of the bunch was any good at it. All are dead but one in the current generation, and the verdict is still out on him - he hasn't been at it very long. This church had no end of trouble when those 5 brothers were there. I could cite other instances of the same thing, but perhaps not so many so closely related, and in several Baptist denominations.

    I have also talked to men who quit, and decided that they had made a mistake about what God had called them to do. I suspect that my be at the root of cause for many who quit. If you read the life-stories of many influnetial people of days gone by you will find many pressured into becoming ministers/priests who decided for what ever reason that moma's idea of a good calling for her son was not God's.

    Now on the other hand, I have been in the ministry for 25 years now. I have had periods where I had doubts and considered giving it up, and got down on myself, when someone in the church I was pastoring came and told me I was doing fine. I am beginning my 5th pastorate in that 25 year period, and am not the healthiest character on the face of the earth, and had/have grave misgivings about accepting the church's call. But I will trust in the Lord to see me through.

    Maybe some who have quit, got down and out (depression) and never got a word of encouragement from their congregants. It is, in my opinion, quite easy to become depressed in the ministry. Funerals work on me severely, and last winter I had 5 within a month. I ended up pretty depressed as a result. I also try to visit each of the elderly in my church at least once a month, usually more often than that just to say howdy. I have been a shut-in because of ill-health, and know that lonliness is a horrible thing. Yes I am married and my wife was there, but I was still lonely for other people, for someone to talk about things that got my mind off what was ailing me. And all the while I was in this time of recovering from a stroke, not one member of my church called or came to visit. If I am able I wont let that happen to anyone of any church I am pastoring. But congregants often seem to forget that their pastor is a human with the same needs that they have. One lady who is a member of the church I am currently pastoring said I was the first pastor of the church who had been to visit her in 20 years. She is a faithful member too. I was out today visiting the last pastor of the church who has M.S. and is just about past it. He told me that some of our fellow ministers thought he was faking it. Very sad.

    Sorry for rambling so long.
     
  13. Rev. Joshua

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    KPBAP,

    Statistically, burnout is very real and very common. The hours and expectations of professional ministry are often brutal, and I seem to remember reading somewhere that 5 years was not an unusual tenure for clergy (add to that the statistic that only 1/3 of seminary graduates are actually going into parish ministry - and the numbers aren't encouraging).

    Tere are several excellent retreat programs for clergy, and the Lily Foundation has grants to provide for sabbatical time. You may want to look into those options before throwing in the towel completely.

    Joshua
     
  14. Major B

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    Joshua,

    Our state convention has retreats twice a year for fired pastors, and they are well attended. Counseling is offered for all family members. There have been two excellent books written on this problem in the last year or so. "Seven Churches NOT in Revelation" (Lifeway) by Gene Mims is a humorous and practical look at problems that result from pastors poorly matched with churches. "The Wounded Minister" by Guy Greenfield (Baker), is a much more serious look at a very real problem.
     
  15. Elnora

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    My husband ministers to incarcerated juveniles. He almost quit once. He ministers mainly on the weekends. This is hard as we have little free time to ourselves. After about eight years he was so discouraged because the kids are so disrespectful, ungrateful and rude a lot of the time. I ask if any had accepted Christ as a result, he said yes. I told him it was well worth it then. He is still there. The reward is when we go to a store or something and a kid will come up to us and tell my husband that he made a big difference in their life and they are living for the lord. Many of these kids were hardcore so I praise God he is still there.

    I think many pastors burn out trying to spread themselves thin and as a result their wife and children suffer. That may be why the ultimatums from the wives for them to quit. They get tired of feeling like the husband is married to the church and not them.
     
  16. dianetavegia

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    Wasn't it Pastor Charles Stanley's wife who used as a reason for wanting a divorce that he didn't have time for her? I think that would be very hard. The pastor is on call 24 hours a day and has to be available for weddings, funerals, hospital calls, shut ins, visitation, all services...

    I admire every woman who has been called of God to be a pastor's wife! I love our pastor's wife and am going to miss her so much. [​IMG]

    Diane
     
  17. Molly

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    I have known quite a few men who took time off or quit because they felt they did not meet the qualifications....I respect that.

    Molly
     
  18. Elnora

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    Jeff Weaver said:
    Maybe some who have quit, got down and out (depression) and never got a word of encouragement from their congregants.

    I also try to visit each of the elderly in my church at least once a month, usually more often than that just to say howdy. I have been a shut-in because of ill-health, and know that lonliness is a horrible thing.

    That is really sad to me when the congregants don't care enough for the pastor, a brother in Christ to give him some encouragement sometime too.
    I know how you feel about the shut ins. I was hospitalized as a child for six days and rarely got a visit but what scared me the most is I was so thirsty and was at the mercy of the nurses to get me water. I couldn't call them as I was restrained to the bed so I wouldn't pull the I.V.'s. To this day I make sure no one I can help is thirsty or hungry.

    Major B said:

    It is actually fairly common. Sometimes, these men made poor choices in spouses; however, often, it is just the stress of being "the pastor's wife" and the meanness of some churches that causes these women to freak out about the ministry. It has been three years since I was forced to resign my pastorate, and my wife has been in counseling for the whole three years.

    I pray God heals your hurts. [​IMG]
     
  19. Trapper

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    In seminary (NOBTS) there was a interesting statistic. If I remember correctly it said, just 4 years after leaving seminary about 40 percent of the graduates only last 4 years. I feel many times like I'll be apart of this statistic and I haven't even made it a year yet.
    Ol Trapper
     
  20. j_barner2000

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    very encouraging topic and comments for a guy who has been interning for a year and has another 2 or so years of studying before starting a "real ministry" My pastor has said that the ministry I am doing is very much real ministry, but some treat it as not. My wife showed me this before I saw it and all I can say is wow.
     

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