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Why Leaving the Ministry May Be An Act of Obedience

Stepping down from the ministry may be a better way to honor God


We know a pastor’s father who once was a pastor but left the pastorate due to discouragement. Had he stayed, he may have hurt the name of Christ instead of advancing it. Likewise, my husband stepped down from the ministry of Sunday school teacher. He had two main reasons for His decision.

One is because he was also discouraged by the class. How would God’s kingdom be advanced with a class that doesn’t want to be led? Moses must have felt the same way, for forty years in the desert, with plenty of problems from the multitude. There is no glory to God by leading a ministry in which the heart is not therein. It is not wise for someone who’s discouraged in ministry to remain in ministry because he’ll not serve with all his heart and desire. How effective could that actually be? It is hard to love families that don’t want to be loved.

Second is because he wanted our family to get the best of him as the one to disciple our family. There is a danger in ministry that surfaces when a leader pastors a small extension of the church, say, in a Sunday school setting for instance. When he tends to that small flock and neglects the home in order to do so, leadership is now out of order. This disorderliness does not bring honor to the family.

“Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.” Psalm 112: 1-2

Holding On

How many times do we see leaders in the ministry giving their all to the cause of Christ in the church body, but neglect the first ministry that God gives them: family. I’ve seen arrogance, a pride that dominates these types of leaders. The evidence becomes clear. They will not leave their post in the church, even though it is apparent that in their home, their family is in shambles. These types of servants of the Lord fail in a tremendous way because as much as they plug away in the various ministries at church, they have nothing at home to show for it, other than an external godliness that is on display every Sunday. And what does this do? It tears the name of Christ from under its footing. They may have the desire to serve with fervor, but the work is in vain if it comes at the expense of his family.

My husband doesn’t believe he will be a Sunday school teacher again. Recently, he pondered the thought that perhaps he probably didn’t love people as much as he thought he did. As Christ loves the world and died for us, walking in His footsteps and deciding to do right time and again for others, despite the failed returns, is one of the many burdens that most in ministry can attest to. Our former pastor, as much as he loved his flock, had experienced some whoppers from people. Yet still, he forebeared and long-suffered through some wrongs and hurts that came his way.

My husband knew that by leaving the ministry it would be an opportunity for someone’s heart to be stirred enough to step up themselves. In order for any believer to grow in Christ with the renewing of his mind, faithful servants need to be available to take on the work.

An essential quality of leadership is knowing when to step down, and when to follow. Many people in the ministry want to be the big chief. They don’t want to be the little Indian that follows the chief. It takes a big man that is humble enough to do just that.

After leaving the ministry, my husband has been challenged to continue to be a friend to those that need one, and he continues to sharpen his leadership commitment to our home. This is the highest calling God bestows on a father for it is the legacy he will leave after he is gone. It is a treasure stored up in heaven. That is where he is glad to hang his hat for now.


Why leaving the ministry may be an act of obedience. Stepping down from the ministry may be a better way to honor God.

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16 comments

  • Bethany October 3, 2018   Reply →

    Thanks for sharing you and your family’s perspective on this topic. I liked when you said, “An essential quality of leadership is knowing when to step down, and when to follows perspective on this.” Visiting from Ronja’s linkup #40

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega October 3, 2018   Reply →

      Thank you, Bethany!

  • Carolyn October 3, 2018   Reply →

    Wow, thank you so much for your candid post. Many prayers for you and your husband during this time of restoration. May peace reside in his heart for following what the Lord has asked him to do.

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega October 3, 2018   Reply →

      Yes, God gave us grace about some of the decisions we’ve made. We’re better now for them years later!

  • Lauren Sparks October 3, 2018   Reply →

    A thoughtful experience on a sensitive subject. Visiting you today from the porch stories link up. laurensparks.net

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega October 3, 2018   Reply →

      Thank you for visiting, Lauren.

  • Tea With Jennifer October 3, 2018   Reply →

    Yes, very wise… People hang on to ministries way past the time God wants them to… This only leads to a staleness in the church, lack of growth & problems. Conversely it stresses the ministering saint & they become dry in their ministry & quite often in their own relationship with God.
    There is a time for everything under the sun as Ecclesiastes tells us. Your husband has been a very wise man!

    You’re most welcome to drop by for a cup of inspiration,
    Jennifer

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega October 3, 2018   Reply →

      Thank you, Jennifer, for your kind words. I appreciate them immensely. I agree with everything you said here and know from experience that ministry will go dry, but we must be brave enough, humble enough to know when to surrender our post to allow others to lead and flourish.

  • Rebecca Jones October 4, 2018   Reply →

    After reading about a pastor’s suicide, stepping down may be a good thing for some, rather than becoming depressed and driven to that decision, I don’t think anyone in ministry should be suicidal or even feel they don’t love enough. I think that is wisdom. And some people just won’t receive and just aren’t that lovable. Tell him to consider blogging, most of us are women and there is a need for a man’s perspective.

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega October 6, 2018   Reply →

      Thank you Rebecca, for your reply. My husband in fact does a bit of blogging over at our Burning Bush Press site. I invite you to stop by and take a look when you get the chance!

      http://www.burningbush.press

  • Brittany October 4, 2018   Reply →

    This hits so close to home in so many ways. A few years ago, I was leading a growing Children’s Ministry. We had people from the community coming in. God was truly blessing the ministry. Yet, the other leaders in the church did not appreciate the growth as it forced some of the elders to do more follow-up, put in more hours to tend to the overseeing of church activities etc. They talked a big talk, but growth requires change. Eventually God asked me to step away, and it was tough when I saw how He could and would move in such major ways. Yet, when God says to walk away, you walk away. #MomentsofHope

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega October 6, 2018   Reply →

      Thank you Brittany, for being sensitive to the Lord’s leading. Your comment is very encouraging and I am glad to read that many, like us, experience the burdens of ministry and all it entails, for better or worse, in all circumstances.

  • Linda Stoll October 5, 2018   Reply →

    Erendira … your post has hit home for me this evening. Both entering and leaving the ministry are life-altering decisions. The emptiness that follows the departure is a difficult transition for sure. Thanks for putting this sensitive subject on the table.

    How good to meet you from Mary’s place …

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega October 6, 2018   Reply →

      Glad to meet you here too, Linda! And thank you for being open to this topic that often gets discussed with a pang of guilt.

  • Ronja October 6, 2018   Reply →

    Thank you for sharing this perspective! It really is important to remain sensitive to God’s leading in whether to stay or to leave a ministry.

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega October 6, 2018   Reply →

      Yes, you are correct, Ronja. We need to always be ready and humble enough to accept when God leads us out.

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