Almost 17 years ago, in 1990, I stepped into the pulpit of the church I started in Greensboro, North Carolina and resigned. I was tired, exhausted, and I had nothing else to say. So I did what I had talked about doing — I quit. Don’t quit. It’s not the solution you think it will be. Here’s why I quit and why you shouldn’t:
- I always wondered if I could make a living doing something else. Well, I could and did — I made a very good living. But what I really wanted to do — in my darkest moments and in my best times — what I really wanted to do was pastor a church. Trust me, if you’re smart enough to be a pastor, you’re smart enough to make a living doing something else. But you will not find it satisfying, fulfilling, or energizing. God’s call is powerful.
- I was tired. I had started a church in an unchurched area of Guilford County, near Greensboro. We met in the Airport Marriott Hotel for 3-years, grew to over 300 in attendance, hired staff, bought property, built a 13,000-square foot worship center, and dealt with a lot of stuff along the way. Members saw my exhaustion and suggested I take 3-6 months off. Instead I quit. I should have listened to the people who loved me and were trying to help me. I wanted to be superman, but I couldn’t fill the suit. Get some rest, take some time off, go on vacation, see a counselor, but don’t quit.
- I thought I could get back into the pastorate easily. I found out that minister friends of mine lost interest in our friendship when I was no longer a pastor. Prospective churches would always ask, “Why did you leave the pulpit?” Pastor search committees were not interested in someone who had quit. I spent 12-years waiting for the opportunity to get back in vocational ministry. Don’t quit.
- I thought nothing I did made a difference. Almost three years ago I returned to the church I started for the first time since I left in 1990. One woman stood up during the service before I preached and said, “I have been praying for 14-years that you would go back in the ministry. Tonight my prayers are answered.” Others stood and spoke of how much Debbie and I had meant to them. We all cried. Someone cares what you do and has been blessed by it. Don’t quit.
- I thought God had given up on me. Clearly, that was not the case. I had given up on God. Or at least, that’s how I felt. But during all those years away from the pulpit, I knew that my years in ministry were my best years. Now I’m back, which is a long story in itself. I still get tired, discouraged, and fed-up sometimes. But I won’t quit again. Don’t quit. It doesn’t solve anything.
If you’re thinking, “Well, he doesn’t know how bad things are” — believe me, I do. Call me, email me, or make some time to come see me before you quit. The kingdom needs you and you are making a difference. Don’t quit.