Arminian Today

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Preparing to Leave the Ministry

I wanted to write toward traditional pastors who perhaps are considering leaving the full-time ministry.  How do you begin to do this?

I read a statistic today that 80% of traditional pastors are discouraged and 50% would leave the ministry if they could.  I am one of those who has left the ministry.  I have not left Jesus.  I have not left true ministry (and I am actually doing more now for the kingdom of God than when I was a full-time traditional minister).  I strongly believe in the fundamentals of the gospel and I would stand with my traditional pastor friends in defending orthodoxy.  I believe that we all need to be biblical disciples who love the Word of God and test all things (including our traditions) by the Word of God (1 John 4:1-2).

For now, let me state some basics for leaving the ministry.  Let me begin by pointing out that I am not talking about walking away from Jesus nor from the Church.  I am talking about moving out of dependence on the money of the church toward a “secular” job and away from working in a traditional church.  Let me offer my own insights.

1.  Be Willing To Work

I was not afraid of “getting my hands dirty” when I left the traditional ministry.  I was ready and willing to work any job to provide for my family.  I am the type of man who will do whatever it takes to provide for my wife and children.  Obviously, I am not saying that a man should be sinful in work to provide (selling drugs for example or compromising the gospel to earn money) but I am advocating willing to do any job to provide.  Don’t be so smug as to think that because you went to Bible college or seminary, you shouldn’t have to work at a fast food restaurant or drive a truck for a living.  Be willing to do all things to the glory of God (Colossians 3:17) including dirty jobs.

2.  Be Willing To Wait

My first job out of the ministry was with Coca-Cola.  I had no clue when I got that job that it would open the door for other truck driving jobs.  I left Coke to work for Pepsi (I know they are competitors but it cut my personal vehicle driving in half!).  I left Pepsi to work for US Foodservice.  I left US Foodservice to work for Golden State Foods (GSF).  Along that way was years of waiting.  I would work my jobs (and some with pain more than pleasure) and wait on the Lord to open the next door.  In each case He faithfully guided me and led me every step of the way.  I struggled at times to know His plan or His ways but I trusted Him.  Several times along the way I tried to make jobs work out on my own but the Lord closed those doors each time (I tried to buy a Fed Ex Ground truck route and tried to get a Little Debbie route but failed at both).  I praise God for His faithfulness and for His providence in leading us.

3.  Be Willing To Worship.

No matter where you find yourself after leaving the traditional ministry, be willing to worship God.  We are not saved by going to Bible college or by preaching or by reading theology books or blogs.  We are saved through a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; James 2:14-26).  I have found that my prayer life is now stronger because I don’t carry the burdens of the church.  My Bible study is stronger because I am reading and studying the Bible with an eye on the Lord and not on me or the people.  My witnessing is better because I am not always surrounded by disciples but now with unbelievers.  I feel I am a better man, a better husband, a better father, and a stronger disciple of Christ after leaving the ministry.  I like to say that I left the ministry for the true ministry of the Lord.

However, wherever you find yourself in life, be willing to worship God.  Be willing to worship Him when you have no money and times are hard.  Be willing to worship Him when you get that job promotion and the Lord opens the door for success.  Be willing to worship God in whatever state you find yourself (Philippians 4:11-13).  Worship Him when you feel discouraged.  Worship Him when others doubt your decisions to leave the ministry.  Worship Him when others ridicule your faith in God.  Worship Him when you are struggling to just make ends meet.

4.  Be Willing To Wrestle.

By wrestle I don’t mean physical but spiritual.  Be willing to wrestle in prayer.  Leaving the ministry was the best decision I ever made.  But at first I had to pray a lot.  I had to just pray for food (Matthew 6:11) which was a good thing as I look back.  I had to pray for the Lord to open doors for jobs.  I had to pray for money to come through.  Yet I rejoice that the Lord was using my struggles to help me learn to pray (Luke 11:1).

So often when leaving the ministry, men try to make things work on their own.  Don’t do that.  Depend on the Lord.  Show this in prayer.  Praise Him for the small victories and for His leading.  Pray to Him who knows what you have need of before you ask Him (Matthew 6:8).  I prayed for many things after leaving the ministry including Him moving us away from the area we were in.  He did this and more.  I prayed for Him to open doors for us and close doors for us and He did.  It was not always as I dreamed it would be but He was faithful every step of the way.  Don’t be afraid to pray to our sovereign God and trust Him through it all (Matthew 7:7-11).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/27/2014 at 11:11 AM

3 Responses

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  1. Oh what a great blog post. The key phrase, that I take away, is this: “be willing.”

    Over 45 years of ministry, I was out of ministry for 2 1/2 years, by-vocational all for 15 years.

    And I have discovered in all the different phases of my ministry life, your “be willing” points had to be active in each phase.

    Mike Bayer

    02/27/2014 at 11:47 AM

  2. […] Ready to quit the ministry? This writer speaks from the experience of crossing over to the dark side, with a knowledge of what happens after you submit the resignation. […]


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