My husband has been the youth pastor at a church for the last two years, and we have wanted to leave for the last year and eleven months. We tried to find a new job this past summer, but it never worked out. My husband is frustrated and so am I. It is hard to sit through a church service without getting angry at our Senior Pastor. I am tired of my Sunday mornings, the time I have to spend with God, being filled with frustration. Our Senior Pastor is visionless yet refuses to step down. We see problems in every direction we turn, but are powerless to change anything. My husband is looked at and treated like a kid by most of the staff and board. We desperately want to go but do not understand why things have not worked out for us to leave. How do we keep it together when we are at a dying church that we are so desperately longing to leave?
Longing to Leave
Dear Longing to Leave,
I can just feel the frustration radiating from the words in your letter! You are definitely in a difficult place in your ministry and I hear how desolate you are feeling. It’s so disheartening to serve people when you feel unappreciated and dismissed.
Now for some truth…God usually sends pastors to churches that are sick. In Mark 2:17, Jesus said “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Sometimes that even includes the Senior Pastor!
Surviving the dying churches and desert places in our lives is dependent on keeping our focus on the reason for our calling. Why did God call you to this church? What is your purpose in being there? What is it that you have that your church might need? Despite how hard this is, what do you have to offer for “such a time as this”? Is there even one person’s life that has changed because you are there? Does that one person matter in God’s economy? Would one life changed make your two years of sacrifice worth it? Spend more time focusing on God’s purpose and will for you in this sick and difficult place and you may be surprised at how peaceful and fulfilling it is to be right in the center of His will. For now, the one place you would rather not be is the place where God wants you. Seek Him first, pursue righteousness, and don’t worry about tomorrow. (Matthew 6:33-34) While you patiently wait for the next step in ministry, do all you can where you are and look for the unique lessons that God is actively teaching you and your husband. Someday, in retrospect, you may find that these trying years were full of value way beyond what you can see in this moment.