Why pastors leave the ministry


I grew up in a church where we had a pastor of impeccable integrity and dignity. He was a highly respected man with a strong pulpit ministry and compassionate care for his flock. Now, decades later, I still have many fond memories of him as a man that we trusted and appreciated. To be honest, I always thought of him as a standard to guide me in my own ministry.

After several years as our pastor he one day announced that he accepted a call to another church, far away. We loved him and his family and highly valued his ministry, and we were sad to see him go.

A short while after he settled into his new church, he suddenly resigned and left the ministry to run a fastfood restaurant in another town. To say we were shocked would be a complete understatement. Why someone so highly appreciated would leave the ministry to work in secular employment made no sense to us. His new church was much bigger and wealthier, and in a position to take better care of him than our church could. To top it all off, he was well off himself through an inheritance that he received earlier in his life, so he didn’t really need to work.

Today, I think I begin to understand why our beloved pastor left the ministry. True to the nature of pastors, he never explained himself. Although he had already left our church, we felt the loss of his resignation to the church at large.

Pastors sow themselves into the ministry willingly and lovingly, without counting their personal cost. They find their joy in the spiritual growth of their flock, and their reward in the victories that the people win in life. Nothing can compare with the fulfillment a pastor enjoys when he sees God’s people serve Him sacrificially and joyfully. The apostle John made mention of it:

I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we have received commandment from the Father. 3 John:4

Paul puts it this way:

Are you not my work in the Lord? For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 1 Cor 9:1,2

Pastors become disappointed when their commitment to the church is not met with a similar commitment by the flock. Giving of your time sacrificially speaks volumes of your support to your pastor and the cause of the Gospel. When God’s people redeem some time by giving up things like relaxing at home, watching television and sports and entertainment, it confirms to the pastor that he is not alone.

Far too often the excuse of busyness masks a heart that loves this present world a little too much. When the pleasure of leisure becomes more important than the eternal treasure that pastors are after, they begin to feel that they are sowing their lives into sterile soil that will produce no or little fruit. What was once precious to them loses its value and they find that they can do better with their lives elsewhere.

It is especially so when they see empty chairs at regular meetings. The prayer meeting is the most important meeting of the week, but, unfortunately, also the most poorly attended.

Pastors are scared of prayerless churches because they know how vulnerable they are to attacks by the devil. And when the church is vulnerable, they know they will probably the first to endure the enemy’s assault, and that is when they begin to look for a way out. Churches that fail at prayer will ultimately fail as a church, but the pastor will be labeled with the stigma.

When the fledgling church if Acts 4 came under pressure of the authorities, their leaders “went to their own companions” and united in prayer. (See Acts 4:23) That payer meeting raised the boldness of those leaders to a much higher level than the threat that was made against them. This is how strong ministers and thriving churches are built.

What church members do not know is that their pastor needs them as much as they need their pastor. Ministers need to know that they are not looked upon to perform while everybody is watching. They do not need the applause of their audience as much as they need their presence at meetings and events.

If you value your pastor’s ministry, show it to him in ways that will motivate you also. Complement his investment with an investment of your own and see his ministry blossom and thrive, while reaping the benefits thereof in your own life and family.

The church is a family business where all the members contribute to its success.

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