8 Things to Do When You’re Ready to Quit Ministry

Some days in ministry are really hard. God’s people can be troublesome, and few seem to understand the weight that pastors and church staff carry on their shoulders. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many pastors simply worn out and ready to leave ministry as I see today.

If that’s where you are, maybe one of these suggestions will be helpful to you:

1. Be careful about making decisions in a storm. I’ve written at my own site about a sermon illustration making this point, but here’s the gist of it: if you change directions when you’re flying in a storm, you might find out you’re headed in the wrong way when you come out of the clouds. And, under God’s grace, you will come out of the clouds at some point. 

2. Review your call to ministry. I don’t know about your call, but I know mine was so clear to me that it would be hard to walk away completely. I might choose to do something else in ministry – including going bi-vocational or co-vocational – but I cannot escape my calling. It continues to ground me in my work no matter what I face.

3. Before you leave, be sure to talk with someone who’s “been there.” It might be someone who’s been there and worked through it, or it may be someone who stepped away. You might find from the latter that stepping away too quickly doesn’t resolve the issues. If you’re not already talking to others at Church Answers Central, I encourage you to join that community. It’s worth the investment.

4. Make sure you have a team of prayer warriors praying daily for you. I’ve heard too many stories of hurting pastors who don’t seek prayer support until they’ve already decided to move on. Get some folks praying proactively for you before you make that decision.

5. Look for just glimpses of God’s glory in your church. It’s easy to see only the negative—and even magnify it—when we’re hurting. That’s when we need to pray the prayer of Moses: “Please, let me see your glory” (Exo 33:18). When you pray that prayer, then, be sure to watch for what God shows you. Trust Him with anticipation.

6. If you haven’t taken some time off (either weekly or for vacation), take that time now. I’m frankly still learning to do this, learned the importance but I’ve of taking some time to “play.” I’m usually amazed by how much my perspective changes when I’ve had rest and relaxation.

7. See if your church would give you a one-month sabbatical. I know churches don’t always grant this request, but it may not hurt to ask. Maybe the leaders will recognize your need and grant it out of love for you and your family. Once in a while, congregations will surprise us . . .

8. If you do decide to leave, don’t let the enemy consume you with bitterness. Nobody wins when you carry bitterness into the future. In fact, your bitterness will become an idol if you don’t let it go—and that just makes things worse. Work hard to leave with a clear conscience and a clean heart. 

If this post speaks to your situation, let us know how we might pray for you.

Posted on September 14, 2021

Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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  • Goodevening pastors, I would love to do this course at a later stage maybe at the beginning of 2022 .I have read the concise explanations on what exactly Church Revitalization is and all the additional information of what it entails and I am more than impressed with the presentation of definitely interested. Regards

  • Teboho Sejane says on

    Thanks I really appreciated

  • Number 9 – Don’t leave FROM ministry. Rather leave TO. The former implies failure and surrender. The latter implies new horizons and opportunities. At a minimum, leave TO pursue better health, a renewed spirit, or even a new type of work that energizes.

  • Thank you for these tips and your encouragement. We are in the midst of a major building project. Add to this dealing with the pandemic, funerals for COVID victims, heart-broken for 15% of congregation who have “forsaken the assembling of themselves” with the believers since the coronavirus hit, is enough to make you want run away. When I feel the least bit sorrowful and discouraged, I try to think of what Jesus endured in Pilate’s hall and on the cross, and this makes my challenges seem NOTHING in comparison. This helps me to keep on keeping on.