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Recently I had the opportunity to catch up with a pastor friend of mine. He shared with me that he was going to make another huge leap in furthering his academic studies. When I asked him why, he said, "I need an external mental and emotional push. It's either this or have an affair. I chose the least expensive option."

I can resonate with my friend's feeling of always wanting the "next big thing." I can become so forward-thinking that I forget about today. The next big thing is always elusive. It seems just as I arrive and accomplish that project or event or attain that "next ring," I find that the satisfaction evaporates on my soul like cotton candy on the tongue.

This constant striving left unchecked can cause us to live life like a bull in a china closet. Because of this mindset, many churches watch their pastors leave because they feel "called" elsewhere. That "calling" more often than not is the desire for the new, the better, and just change in general. They walk out on churches like the deadbeat dad that stumbles out the front door into the snow to get a drink. Imagine if we treated our spouses and children this way. This addiction to "new" is breaking churches and ruining the credibility of those that minister in the pulpit.

Not every pastor is the Apostle Paul called to from city to city plant churches. Yet, many seem to see themselves as just that: itinerant pastors. Two to three years and they're out. When all of their best sermons have dried up, the ideas stop flowing, or obstacles come their way, they hit the door. That's not Spirit-led; that's dysfunctional.

I don't foresee this issue becoming any more stable unless a drastic movement in the hearts of pastors takes place. Think about this. We have the Millennial generation now entering the ministry who are already noted as having the proclivity to move from job to job when anything new or better comes around. This idea of making a long-term commitment to a church must be mentored and modeled by those that are ahead of them.

I'm not saying that God doesn't lead us as pastors elsewhere. I'm saying it should be the exception, not the rule. We need pastors that won't leave; we need pastors that will cleave—cleave to their calling and their commitment to their church family.

I know what it is to be on this roller coaster of emotions, and it's horrendous. With God's help, over time I've slowly grown in my ability to manage my emotions instead of my emotions managing me. For the sake of my marriage, my family, and my ministry, it is crucial I get this right. Bottom line: I must remind myself daily that my life's pursuit is not to attain greatness, comfort, and ease for myself, but to point to Christ's greatness.

Let me encourage you to stay in the ring. Don't give up or walk out because your ministry has gotten hard or stale. Take a deep breath and dive in again to the work you've been called to.

Nathan Rouse is a fellow church leader that is passionately investing in the Church as a pastor and writer. Over the last 15 years in ministry he's been seized with the calling to mentor young leaders for ministry. As a student of church leadership he is committed to collaborating with other church leaders to effectively make and send disciples around the world.

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Chris Surber

commented on Jul 19, 2012

There is truth in this, to be sure. Many pastor may in fact only be driven by the next new, bigger, better, thing in their ministry; though even then I think it is often out of a sincere desire to be used of God in increasing ways - prayer of Jabez kind of thing. On the other hand, the Pastor is not in fact the father of the Church. Metaphorically, there is a connection BUT is the pastor in most local churches treated with that kind of respect? Does he have the kind of authority or influence that his experience, education, and calling should afford him? Further, why do so many local church members afflict the pastor and one another with their power-struggles to get their way but then when the pastor leaves they say "He abandoned us?" They were not submissive to his authority or influence in the first place so why are they so disappointed that he left them to pursue their agenda(s) without him? Common sense and experience do show that longer pastorates are usually better for all involved but this is as much a church culture issue as it is a culture among pastors. Lord help us.

Andrew Shields

commented on Jul 19, 2012

You have been in the ministry for 15 years how long have you stayed? What about the lack of unemployment insurance for pastors that are asked to leave? Methodists are itinerant by nature. I am Baptist, and it is usually conflict that causes pastors to leave. I have a friend who hasnt gotten a raise is 7 YEARS, while his family has grown. I know many pastors who have been burned by what turned out to be a one sided commitment by them. My grandfather was a pastor who moved too much, so i understand the point of the article but how long should you stay in a church who is passively or actively resistant to your leadership? And did you know that the person who generally follows someone who stays the pastor for more than 15 years is usually a pastor with a very short tenure?

Andrew Shields

commented on Jul 19, 2012

You make some good points Christopher in you comments. I never try to look at a church as a stepping stone to a bigger church. Churches do benefit to pastors staying longer than 5 years generally.

David Parks

commented on Jul 19, 2012

This is a fantastic article. The subsequent comments by Andrew and Christopher add much wisdom to the discussion. I'm a senior minister with 40 years of experience. I've been with this congregation for 25 years. Over the years I've been involved in interviewing potential staff members. One of the things that concerns me greatly is that after interviewing many, "newly minted" ministers I have concluded that a disconcerting percentage of the young interviewees are approaching ministry as a career instead of a calling. It's as if you're interviewing a star and you are just the next steppingstone as he moves on to greater and higher personal opportunities for self-fulfillment. When a potential ministry candidate has more questions about his benefit package, the weather, local amenities, etc. than he does about the ministry opportunity he is applying for, something is amiss.

Raymond Mitchell

commented on Jul 19, 2012

Appreciate the thoughts of this article as I am beginning the process of wondering if it is time to move to another ministry. After 12 years at my current church, it seems as though we have plateaued within the ministry and have not been able to significantly reach the community. While I agree that moving on after 3 years may be too soon, I also think that there is the possibility of staying too long. I also think there is a tension between being content in the pastorate and becoming complacent and "too comfortable." My wife and I believe we are content where God has us and we are willing to stay. Yet I do not want to become a complacent pastor, and just go through the motions in a ministry that seemingly may have no where to go, yet many places to potentially grow--as long as that is the desire of God's people, which at times I wonder about.

Michael Sechler

commented on Jul 19, 2012

This is not just a pastor problem, but a systemic problem. Often, pastors are seen by the congregation as hired professionals and outsiders. We are trained either in seminary or by other pastors, to remain aloof and not get too close. Don't buy a house, don't have your best friends in the church, etc. Also, every conference, leadership magazine, and pastor helps site gives you the next 10 things that you need to do or that you are not doing right. In such an environment, how "in the world" could anyone expect to stay content? You have too be really intentional finding your peace and joy with the Lord, and really learn to love your church to want to continue on. You also have to retrain church people to let you become part of them, and let them know that you are planning to stick around. Having grown up in a pastor's family I saw this urge to move on, and being a pastor myself, I still feel the urge. Perhaps in the next place I can really do things right or the people there will really get my vision. The things that keep me staying where I am (7 years now) are my love for the people, and the reality that all my problems in ministry will almost certainly move with me. In other words, God is still training me, and a new situation will not suddenly make me into Rick Warren.

Keith B

commented on Jul 19, 2012

I wonder if such a pastor would be better off not being in the ministry. I don't know that we're called to an exciting life of always having something new and better. We're called to shepherd Christ's sheep. Yes, there will be exciting times...but oftentimes I'm not sure it it.

Jeff Combs

commented on Jul 19, 2012

Thanks for being a "voice in the wilderness" in my life today! I have been dealing with the staleness of my ministry lately and my thoughts have turned toward leaving for greener pastures. Your article reminded me to stay committed and focused on what God has for me to do in His Kingdom today!

David Nuhfer

commented on Jul 19, 2012

I can't help but wonder what the percentages are on pastors who move on because (1) God called them to move on, (2) The church "moved them out" because "we need another pastor", (3) They realized that no matter how hard they prayed and worked and loved, the people were not going to awaken and get moving, and (4) They wanted the "bigger and better". My guess is that #2 and #3 would have the larger percentages.

David Buffaloe

commented on Jul 19, 2012

Good article, thought provoking

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 19, 2012

"[A]ll my problems in ministry will almost certainly move with me." Michael Sechler, that is an excellent comment!

Keith B

commented on Jul 19, 2012

I am in the process of changing from the IT industry (SQL Server DBA) to preaching. I've held 9 jobs the last 10 years. I keep changing jobs. In every one the same stuff happens...whether it's a big company, small company, whatever. I finally concluded that it wasn't the environment...it was that I'm unhappy doing anything but ministry. On the other hand, if you're unhappy in ministry...changing churches won't cure it. Maybe you're not called to it.

Gene Escoe

commented on Jul 19, 2012

I appreciate the article and all the comments. My wife and I are struggling with wondering if it is time for us to move. I have been at my church for 4.5 years. In January I had a man comeof into my office and tell me that the church had only planned on me staying 3-4 years so my time was up! In my time here I have never been paid the amount I was offered to come here. The problem comes from both sides, the "prof ministers" and from the churches. Both view being a pastor as aI hired gun or anthe entertainer. When either party fails to get their way or a better offer comes along then the relationship is severed. This doesn't honor God. Could this b why we are all so ineffective?

Keith B

commented on Jul 19, 2012

Gene, I'm sorry. That is heartbreaking...is that a board member telling you that, or an average member of the congregation?

Mark Opseth

commented on Jul 19, 2012

After such a lengthy call process to a church, I think it's far too easy for pastors to just up and decide to move on. If we're honest, we don't like it when members decide to leave for whatever reason, but we do that very thing! A few years ago, the Lord convicted me of my antsy feet.

Charles Ingwe

commented on Jul 19, 2012

I have really bee blessed by this article and it has let me into what I did not know much about ministry in other countries I would call " developed countries", from some comments on the renumeration of gospel ministers. Whilst it is imperative for the warefare of God's ministers is taken into account, ministry is a calling from God who has promised to take care of his servants. When He becomes our focus he never ceases to prove that church is His business. Whilst the same trend of money first maybe an issue in our african set up I can safely say that to a large extent in africa ministry is sacrificial. My pay has just risen from a $100 to $200. If ministry was just like any other job seeking without getting the conviction of where the Holy Spirit wants one to be I could have just gone into prayer and fasting for a fast job in one of the churches out there so that I can get confortable too. Yet I know that my loving God is ever faithful if only you allow Him to be Lord.

Nathan Rouse

commented on Jul 19, 2012

Thanks for reading. My hope was that this article would be an encouragement and a challenge. We're in this together by God's grace.

Kenneth Lane

commented on Jul 19, 2012

There is so much truth into what the author is saying. I have watched my pastor friends go from church to church like they were changing their socks and I have never understood this. I guess some can be blamed on the church as well because they hire these nomad pastors because they present well in interviews and state that God has led them to there. How many business owners would hire someone that jumped from job to job. Just a thought

Anthony Leon Perkins

commented on Jul 19, 2012

David Nuhfer posed a good question/comment in post 4. With the exception of pastors who are asked or "encouraged" to "move on" I would agree with the author that this is a pastoral problem that God needs to fix within the heart of pastors. I have been at my current position for nearly 17 years and like many other pastors I have occasionally felt the urge to resign due to personality conflicts, apathetic attitudes or a number of other things. However, God has always reminded me of His calling on my life and that I am loved by Him and by those I serve as an undershepherd. He has also reminded me that ultimately I am to serve and please Him, not those to whom I minister. To God be the glory!

Anthony Leon Perkins

commented on Jul 19, 2012

Please forgive my typo. My previous post referred to post number 9 instead of post number 4.

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