The Temptation to Quit

Musings on whether to quit or not to quit:

I suppose every person in ministry is strongly tempted to quit from time to time. Not quit as in “send out a resume, start looking for a job” quit, but “walk out today” quit.

I’ve got a pastor friend who fought with his church for most of two decades about fundamental decisions about the church’s future. No one paid much attention, and one Sunday he preached what was on his heart (as we say in Southern Baptist land), closed his Bible and walked out the center aisle, out the front door, never to come back to that pulpit. He never regretted it, and he was satisfied he’d done the right thing.

I tend to believe he did, but most of the time I’ve entertained that same fantasy, I can’t say it would have been the right thing to do. I’ve known several ministers who quit on the spot (or close enough to it that it felt the same.) I can’t say they were doing the right thing.

One pastor I worked with for several years got into a tug-of-war with his worship leader over choosing hymns. The pastor wanted to choose them. The worship leader felt it was his job. The deacons asked the pastor to work with the worship leader. Instead, the pastor resigned. I’m pretty sure that was just stubbornness and pity. “I’ll show them what happens when you don’t support me,” he was probably thinking.

For every Christian who quits a responsibility on the spot, there’s probably two that should have quit long ago. I don’t hold it against them at all. But I’m distressed about those Christians who are seduced by the allure of trading a good name for the momentary power over others available to the person who quits on the spot.

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