My resignation letter was written.
It was skillfully crafted and I was ready to show it to Dianne and tell her my well founded reasons for wanting to quit ministry.
As we sat in a beautiful seaside cafe I told her I was tired, discouraged and over it.
Then I showed her the letter. She read it and then put in her pocket.
I never saw it again.
Dianne told me that she wasn’t going anywhere and that there had to be another way.
Thankfully we found another way and I didn’t quit.
There have been other times when I’ve wanted to quit and walk away from being pastor.
What has kept me from quitting?
7 Reasons Why I Have Never Quit Ministry
1. My wife, Dianne
Dianne has been the steady as a rock person in my life for over 40 years.
She’s unflappable and approaches all crises with a calm spirit, resolutely persevering in Christ to see us through to the other side.
When I’ve been ready to chuck it in she’s quietly told me she has a call of God and isn’t going anywhere.
Dianne has prayed me thorough many storms, pounding on the gates of heaven until the light has broken through the deep darkness.
I wouldn’t be in ministry today without Dianne’s perseverance.
I’ve been a man of prayer for all of my 44 years as a believer.
I have found prayer to be an exceptional antidote to wanting to quit ministry. In prayer I’ve been able to cast my cares, woes and anxieties onto the Lord and trust him for my future.
I tend to be a future focussed person which is helpful when if comes to leadership.
However, the downside is that I tend to worry about the future as I contemplate various scenarios.
This tendency to anxiety has at times led me to become disheartened and wanting to quit rather than persevere.
It’s in the place of prayer that my anxious heart has found rest.
The truth of Isaiah 30:15 has been fulfilled through my prayer life, in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.
Prayer has helped process my disappointments, setbacks and failures. I don’t think I would have lasted over 30 years if I was trying to carry those weights by myself.
I got saved at 19. I was a broken, washed up hippie with shattered dreams and no hope. Jesus found me in this state of despair, picked me up and embedded hope in my newly redeemed heart.
Life changing encounters of this nature shape your thinking and direction for years.
I know Christ is real and I know that the call I have to ministry is just as real. And given all that he’s done for me I believe His love requires my obedience.
Also I don’t want to face the Lord in eternity and explain to Him why I gave up, why I quit ministry and ran from the call He gave me. That would not be a happy day.
Raw obedience to Jesus’ call has, at times, been the only thing that has kept me in the race.
4. The Pastoral Life
One of the major reasons I have never quit the ministry is that I love being a pastor.
It is an innovative and creative vocation. There’s variety, challenge and scope to grow.
While a pastor’s lifestyle is stressful it is also liberating. You get to choose the rhythms that suit you and plan your life around those rhythms.
Another superb element of the pastor’s life is the collegiate nature of ministry friendships.
Pastors get each other. We understand each others woes and joys and thus engage readily with each other.
My pastoral connections have dragged me out of many a dark hole.
5. A Purposeful Life
I am hard wired for purpose.
I would find it impossible to live a steady as she goes, meandering type of life. I need to feel that I am making a significant difference and that my contribution matters.
I realize that not everyone is wired this way so I don’t expect everyone to relate to this aspect of my ministry life.
But for me I couldn’t do a 9 to 5 job for decades, retire and quietly see out my days. For some people that’s a dream. For me it’d be a nightmare.
Pastoring has given me the opportunity to live on purpose and leave my mark upon the world. While the downside of that desire is drivenness the upside more than outweighs any negatives.
One of the heart felt joys of ministry is the friends you make both within your church and amongst other pastors.
Friendships impact our lives in a variety of ways. They help us keep dark times in perspective and give us a place to share the good times.
My friendships have more than once diverted me from being one of those who quit ministry.
My friends carried me through my dark year of depression, supported me through cancer, celebrated my transition from pastoring to consulting and much more.
Frankly, friends are a key reason I have lasted the difference.
7. Collateral damage
Another primary reason that I haven’t quit the ministry is collateral damage.
At various times I’ve thought long and hard about the impact that quitting would have on others.
This has weighed heavily on me as I’ve stayed the course over the years.
I’ve worried about discouraging younger pastors.
I’ve worried about discouraging long term members in our church.
I’ve worried about bringing disrepute to my vocation.