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8 Reasons Why Pastors Leave

I always used to wonder why pastors leave. If you have attended church for any amount of time, you will probably have experienced this event at least once. There was a stretch, when I was younger, that we had 4 different pastors in a 5 year period. It's also possible that you have never experienced a pastor resigning and may be asking why.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are 8 reasons I have encountered myself or seen in others:

1. Burn-out

Although you may feel that a pastor has an easy job, there is much more to it than meets the eye. Preaching, teaching, counselling, praying, fasting, visiting, leading, training, and organizing can take a tremendous amount of time and effort. If a pastor doesn't have a strong ministry team and/or volunteer team then he may find himself in a state of burn-out. Burn-out is when you just hit that brick wall where you have nothing left to give and you realize you have been leading on empty. The book below describes this in great detail from a pastor's perspective.

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2. Discouragement

Pastors take on new works or churches with the goal of succeeding in winning people to Jesus. Any pastor wants to win souls. That goes without saying, but everybody has a different tolerance for timelines for that growth. One man may be working on a 10 year plan while another may expect immediate results. Either way, once they reach the end of that timeline, or even before, if the results aren't what they expect, discouragement sets in.

Another type of discouragement is not number related. Pastors invest time training, counselling, and working with people to grow their walk with God or their ministry. Sometimes many years are invested and if somebody decides to give up or turns their back on the pastor, it can be very demoralizing.

3. Financial Issues

We all deal with financial issues at one time or another. Some of us are constantly struggling financially. While there are some well-off pastors that you may see in the media or that may have large churches, the vast majority have congregations well below 100 people. Due to this reason, many pastors are bi-vocational. They work a full -time job to pay the bills but volunteer their time as pastor. It's been my experience that people can deal with financial or church issues but not both. That's exactly what the majority of pastors deal with and eventually it ends up being too much for some.

4. Opposition

Opposition comes in different forms but it really all boils down to Spiritual Warfare. The opposition is sometimes from the community or a local group that opposes the pastor or the church for various reasons. Most opposition is from within the church body itself. There have been books written about this topic alone but it suffices to say that opposition makes every small mole hill into a huge mountain. The most mundane decisions are questioned at nauseum. The Bible talks about the wearing out of the saints in the last days. Pastors are always targeted with this attack.

5. Loss of burden

This is a tricky one because it blends in with, or could be a result of the other reasons why pastors leave. It can also be a stand-alone issue so that is why we will include it here. A burden is a feeling or sense of duty to a place or a group of people. Without a burden, no pastor would last long no matter how talented they are. When a burden is lost, a pastor will question if the above issues are worth fighting.

6. Loss or perceived loss of call

The Bible says that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, but that doesn't stop the enemy from trying to convince a pastor he isn't called anymore. That's why we listed a perceived lack of call. A pastor may also feel he is still called to preach but that he is no longer called to that particular community.

7. Family

Pastor's families make huge sacrifices, even though they don't usually feel called to a particular area. They just follow what their husband/dad is feeling. One home missionary from Arkansas summed it up well when he said, “I signed up for this, but they didn't.” Due to some or all of the above, a pastor may feel that he needs to leave for his family's sake. His wife, in a moment of desperation, may also confront him and compel him to leave for the betterment of his family. A pastor can build another church but he can't build another family.

8. It is God's will

Sometimes, without warning and for no obvious reason to the pastor or the church body, the pastor feels God leading him to resign. I personally went through this. I kept asking God why he wanted me to leave. Things were progressing and we were happy and comfortable with the church and home life. It just didn't make sense.

I remember confiding in my pastor, to which he asked, “When does God make sense?” The Bible says His ways are not our ways. God sees the end from the beginning and we have to learn to trust Him even when we don't have all the answers.

So that is 8 common reasons pastors resign and 8 big reasons to pray for him and his family. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, especially if you are a pastor.

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3 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why Pastors Leave”

  1. I hate where we are…both congregations are an obstinate people(maybe Jer 8 stuff) with little to no appetite for personal daily relationship with Jesus…repentance is shallow at best. I am sure this is what Jesus must feel about most of us over the last 2,000 years.
    Our family are settled in school and my job is ok.
    A few years ago someone came to speak at the church and told my husband that he felt God saying he needed to make himself more vulnerable and tell the congregation how he is feeling. He hasn’t really done this and would not generally relate deep stories of how how God has impacted His word into OUR relationship. He shared a prophecy that he got and it darted back to him in the Spirit, rejection.
    It takes inner personal security in God to do this. I have shared this with my husband but he quoted back about ‘dont cast your pearls before swines’
    Dunno. Maybe me and the kids are to go to a different church after 6 plus years of trying.
    He has an interview for another post in the next two weeks and if we get it, we will go. We have prayed that he would only get an interview if we get offered the post.
    Please pray for us if you can.
    Be loved

  2. Nowadays, I’m not much of a church-going religious person per se. However, God has placed me on the path of Mentoring Leaders in the Community and I am very grateful for God’s loyalty to me and his chosen people (in that sense, including myself).

    However, it is crushing to know that pastors who love their flock are pretty much pressured into resigning as a last result of the problem-solving, and in their attempt to restore, as a result of what is mentioned in this article…

    And I know myself better to be a Bible Faith-Believing Christian than to provoke or make my pastors angry and grief over something I can manage on my own… There is a scripture where it reads along the lines parents don’t anger your children and I take that into context because I am a mother of three bright children who I try not to provoke nor cause them to grieve over pettiness… However, as the scripture reads in Hebrews 13:17
    17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account. To this end, allow them to lead with joy and not with grief, for that would be of no advantage to you.

    Nice article to read for peace… thank you.

  3. Rev. K.E. Hagin, deceased, said everyone has access to God but we are taught it is only special people.
    Rev. Hagin talked to God, many people do, you can too.
    A man coming out of jail told me a woman he had never seen told him God said not to do what you are planning. He said he was planning to murder some crooked people.
    The most ignored verse in the Bible is actually true Rom. 8:11 HE that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.
    I said God help me stop drinking. HE did in one night before I believed. There are thousands of stories like mine from ordinary people.
    God doesn’t believe all the Bible, nearly 300 verses say fear God. God said in Isa. 29:13 ESV their fear of ME is a commandment of men.
    Some preach repent or go to hell. God said there is only one judge, but you, who are you to judge your neighbor Jms. 4:12.
    BREAKTHROUGH TO GOD I did what Rev. Hagin, said was his breakthrough to God. After 5-6 weeks of reading the verses 2X/day on my knees I cried for two hours and felt like a 4 y/o child at 74 and I knew it was God.
    The verses are Eph. 1:16-20, Eph. 2:4-8, Eph. 3:14-19. This is The Epiphany of finding God’s love for you.
    I have cried over 300 times and so hard that snot comes out my nose feeling loved. One time I said wait a minute. How is it possible to cry feeling loved!!!
    We have this treasure in jars of clay 2 Cor. 4:7.There is an “Elephant in the room” and it is God, and HE loves us more than we know.
    Jim Caviezel, The Passion, heard God say THEY DON’T LOVE ME, VERY FEW.

    Richard met God (YouTube) cries talking about God’s unconditional love.
    Ken Johnson (YouTube) heard God say I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER EVER KNOW.
    Howard Storm, a former atheist cries talking about Jesus saving him.
    Teach people to rely on Jesus, not on pastors.
    These verses are literally true:
    Luke 17:21 NIV the KOG is in our midst.
    2 Cor 13:5 ESV do you not realize Christ Jesus is in you.
    Jesus is here now and waiting to be asked and told us in Mat. 16:26.
    He lives in spirit the way God lives in spirit.
    I’ve been healed of many things.
    The young lady who helped my wife was healed the night before major surgery.
    Bill said Jesus if you’re real help me. He heard NEVER WILL I LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.
    I have more but God is real, not theory and not a million miles away.
    He said seek ME and you will find Me Jer. 29:13.

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