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
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.