How do I know if it’s MY time to make a transition (leave my current position)? Much has been written on this topic; and I have LOVED some blogs I have read on the subject. Of course, the chief concern here is the terrible lack of longevity we see in our churches today-  some churches seem to go through staff like water, and many staff are far too quick to leave.  We should never leave a ministry God has called us to on a whim. Ministry is HARD- no doubt about it.  And if you leave every time ministry breaks your heart or gets difficult, you won’t stay anywhere long. I have heard it said that you cannot effect any REAL change in a ministry until you have been there at least 3 years.

But if you have honestly tried EVERYTHING you can think of to improve things at your current ministry, and you have tried to stick things out for this long haul, is it ever right to leave a ministry position? Actually, yes, sometimes God is telling you to move on.  And if you overstay in the wrong position, you can do damage to the ministry you are supposed to be serving. AND there can be frustration and harm for you, your health and your family.  So how can you know? How can you know if it may be time to find a new ministry position? Well, I talked with a few of my friends in ministry, and here are some of the TOP ways I and others have known it was possibly time to move on:

  1. You just don’t care anymore. You cannot shake apathy. Something doesn’t go well, or you exceed goals- and it doesn’t faze you either way. Something inside you has died for this ministry. I encourage you to talk about those feelings with your senior leader and other ministry leaders you trust outside your ministry.  It could be you just need a break, or a refreshing etc. But you cannot ignore that apathy for long- it is SAYING something.
  2. You are almost ALWAYS frustrated, irritated and resentful.  It’s perfectly normal to be frustrated at times (especially Mondays!). But if these feelings or anger and hurt and resentment have gone on and on and nothing you are doing is helping; it may be time for you to leave before that attitude gets worse and/or poisons those around you.
  3. Vision is gone. You are no longer hoping or planning for great things a long way off for the ministry there. You can barely focus on planning for this coming Sunday. Planning for a year from now is nearly impossible. Because you can no longer see the future for this ministry. Writing messages further out is becoming more difficult. Many ministers have told me that when it was time to leave, they “felt it lift”- their vision and desire for that place was gone….so much so that the building itself began to look different to them; nothing seemed the same.
  4. You find yourself often day dreaming about a different ministry/church. A lot of leaders have that awesome daydream of filling in for Francis Chan for a Sunday and 2000 people get saved… But if ALL you do is hope and dream about another ministry, then your heart may have died for this one.  And that’s not fair for the people at your current church. You should still be able to dream for the church you are at.
  5. You are now there for the wrong reasons- ie. money, habit, fear. You do not want to be there at all, but you just don’t know how to do anything else. Or you are afraid or going somewhere new. Which leads to a great question:            Why are you staying?
  6. Your ministry there does not “fit” with the church’s new vision/direction. Your giftings and talents are not being used; you’re just not challenged anymore. It could be that God has grown you so much in that ministry, that He now has plans for you elsewhere. And it could just be that – and please please hear my heart when I say this- you may not be what that church is looking for in a new season.  Everything changes, always. And your giftings and leadership could just be an answer to prayer and a perfect fit somewhere new. I remember, many years back, sitting around the table at our weekly staff meeting at my church.  I had been on staff there for several years, with a lot of growth and success.  But increasingly, I was finding myself frustrated at these meetings. With the new leadership, new vision and direction, I had been so excited, but week by week I felt like a fifth wheel.  I prayed about it, sought wise counsel, talked to the new lead pastor, and worked harder to make it work. But one morning, sitting in that meeting, reigning in a volcano of frustration, I took a good look around and realized….I was what didn’t fit in this picture. It wasn’t the 6 other staff who needed a change- I wasn’t right for this newly redefined position.  And I knew it wasn’t going back to what it was. In that moment the whole picture changed. I felt a relief wash over me, as well as sadness, grief….but when we got up to leave the room and go into the hallways, nothing was the same. I knew it was over. I did keep praying, thinking, grieving, but God confirmed through several other people that it was time to go.  I listened and moved on to an amazing new staff position that has been one of the greatest experiences-and most challenging!-of my life. And I got to see the next kid’s ministry grow exponentially, and I grew in team building by matching myself and others in their skill sets. I know that if I had been stubborn and stayed without God’s blessing, my ministry there would NOT have kept growing, and I would have continued feeling stymied and frustrated. And furthermore, things like my Africa trip, traveling/speaking, and my book may never have happened.

Ministry takes a lot of wisdom and prayer.  And remember that God is still guiding, still writing your story and the stories of the ministries where you work. “He Who has begun a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.” Believe that in time, He will make His will clear to you.  Just be willing to jump in and follow it.  And be patient, prayerful and act with integrity in that “waiting time”. God bless your ministry now and in the new year! Trisha