A recent poll states that 38% of pastors are tempted to quit and leave the ministry as their chosen profession. The long-lasting Covid pandemic is largely to blame, but there may be other reasons. Let's talk about a few.
The pandemic with its restrictions has created frustration and division in the church. Pastors are feeling this, especially when people lay blame on poor leadership or even a lack of courage. Those who lead the church are placed on one side of the resulting polarization or another. This becomes a lose-lose situation where fingers of blame point at the pastor.
Today's climate forces many church leaders to neglect days of rest or even precious and needed times alone with God in His word. A top priority shifts to a neglected one. The result is spiritual and physical weakness. And this leads ultimately to an "I give up" attitude.
Churches are being marginalized, and the role of a pastor in the church and community is too. Some examples are physical health becomes more important than spiritual health, the internet church experience becomes more important than the local church, and the correct political label becomes more desired than the Christian label.
Another reason is the pastor's calling is devalued and placed on a level with other vocational occupations. Local church and personal affirmation of calling by God are replaced by the personal feeling of being in a desired occupation.
In times like these, pastors who depend on encouragement and verbal accolades from others may tend to be hard to come by. If this is your main motivation for being a pastor or church leader, it will be hard to stick with it. Your best response may be to want to bail out.
If you are in the 38%, here are a few ways to keep on keeping on in ministry.
1. Work on developing a closer relationship with the Lord. Instead of falling on your face with discouragement, fall on your knees with the open Book in front of you. The spiritual disciplines are called spiritual disciplines for a reason. Schedule daily times alone with God and make them a priority.
2. Spend regular time with other pastors and share your joys and your sorrows, your temptations and your victories with one another. Be brutally honest with one another and pray for one another.
3. Start each church leadership of staff meeting with prayer followed by a question, "How has God shown up in your life and ministry since we last met?" or "What has God been saying to you lately?" Make sure everyone has an opportunity to answer – leave no one behind. Look for God at work. Focus on Him and not you.
4. Make sure you are getting true rest each week. Put those rest times in your calendar and stay away from church work. And devote special time with your spouse. Do the same with your family. Then, devote time to your church family and work.
5. Remain in a circle of accountability. Ask some trusted friends and colleagues to hold you accountable in your areas of weakness and well as sharing your joys and victories.
6. Also, find out what makes you laugh and engage in it each week. Laughter is so important to keeping your heart and mind in ministry. Laugh with others, not at one another. And, don't forget to laugh at yourself occasionally.
7. Don't quit! Stay with it.
What other suggestions can you share?