What to Do if You Feel Like Quitting [EP:096]

Have you considered quitting ministry?

If you have, you’re not alone. There are many pastors and ministry leaders who are considering whether or not it is time to go.

A 2013 study from the Schaefer Institute reported that 1700 pastors leave the ministry each month, citing depression, burnout, or being overworked as the primary reasons. In 2019 a summary of surveys from Fuller Institute, Barna and Pastoral Care Inc. showed that 1500 clergy leave pastoral ministry every month. And just last week I saw a church leadership expert take a poll asking, “have you considered quitting in the last 14 months?” And a resounding 77% answered, “yes!”

Thousands of pastors around the United States and around the world are ready to quit.

If you are one of those people, what should you do?

  • Remember that God loves you apart from what you do for Him, so if you quit, He will still love you completely!!!
  • Sometimes when you feel like you want to quit, you really don't want to quit. There is something else going on. Be opened to what God is revealing to you.
  • Acknowledge your current reality. Don't deny your feelings, hoping that if you ignore them they will magically disappear.
  • Take a day off. Let your staff know that you will not be available. Don't text, don't check email, don't answer the phone. Go for a walk, watch a movie, go shopping, sleep, whatever you need to do. This is a buffer that will allow you to catch your breath before you do the work of deciding whether or not you should quit.
  • Take a vacation. Some people want to quit but what they really need is a vacation! After they come back they feel energized and renewed, ready to go! On the other hand, if you dread coming back and never get relief, that is significant.
  • Create small places of margin (a few minutes several times throughout the day) and ask, "God, how do you see my situation. What is your will?"
  • Ask a trusted friend to pray for you. 
  • Write down the words that you are feeling.
  • Explore why you want to quit. Get specific. What can you just not tolerate anymore (or who). 
  • Flip the coin. What is making you stay? Guilt? Sense of obligation? Fear? No energy?
  • If you still feel called to remain, explore what would need to happen in order for you to stay and remain healthy.
  • Evaluate your ministry call…sometimes we want to quit because our season is over…season at that particular place, in that particular ministry position. That's normal and something to pay attention to.
  • Make a plan for change. If you decide to stay, what are steps do you need to take in order to remain healthy. If you go, what steps do you need to get healthy? Don't do nothing and expect things to be different.

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