Today is the last installment of writing about Building Below the Waterline by Gordon MacDonald. It has been a blast doing with with Bill Grandi from Cycleguy’s Spin and Michael Perkins from The Handwritten.
Now on to the post. I had worked for ten years at an inpatient Drug and Alcohol facility. I started out by going through patients luggage to make sure they were not bringing in contraband and making sure people were staying in their rooms. Through the years I worked my way to second shift, then I was trained and promoted to Experiential Therapist, and I eventually was promoted to Adolescent Addiction Counselor. I worked in that position for several years and then one day my supervisor told me that I could not make any more per hour or be promoted any more because I did not have a degree. You see, I had left college with nine hours remaining and planed to take care of those right away but procrastination and never got a round to it.
Now for four years while I was working as a counselor, I was also a part time Youth Pastor (for the record – there is no such thing as a part time Pastor) in my first church ministry position. The first couple of years at the church I had a pastor whom loved me and poured himself in me and helped me grow as a Pastor and a man. Then we went a year without a pastor as he left to take another position closer to his home and more in line with his giftedness. The church then called a pastor whom I did not see eye to eye with in many areas which pushed me to begin to search out what I was to do. I knew the one thing, I was not to do was to make a big deal about my problems with the pastor with the whole church because I knew that it could cause a split in the church or even splinter it.
My wife and I took a vacation away to the beach with some friends seek God on what to do with the church. The answer we got at the time was to stay. We stayed there six more months and during that time we really then we prayed again about what to do. Then we got an answer because that was when I was told by my supervisor that I could not move any further in the facility. My wife and I both knew that it was God telling us that it was time to go. During those six month of prayer and seeking God, He began to work on me about the need to finish my degree and began to give me a vision about furthering my education even more. I applied to go back to the school that I had the remain hours from – which was five hours away – and I got accepted. They had a graduate program I was interested in and for my wife and I this was all confirmation that we were to leave this first church to go on to finish my degree and then head on to seminary.
This then leads in the book today – MacDonald in the book talks about eight signals that it is time to leave your church when you are a pastor (pages 243 – 248):
- Incompatibility – simply and inability for the Pastor and congregation to get on the same page.
- Immobility – this is where there is really no sense of direction and the knowledge that fresh leadership will bring it.
- Organizational Transition – Organization reaches a growth point where a new kind of leadership becomes necessary.
- Stagnancy – Pastors do not think they can no longer personally develop or develop in leadership in their present circumstance.
- Fatigue – No renewing for the Pastor – they feel like they are always on spiritually/psychologically/ and physically.
- Family Morale – where the situation is harmful for the spouse and/or children.
- Closings and openings – Simply with great prayer/ advising/ and counsel the Pastor sees that they are at the point of conclusion.
- The Age Factor – The Pastor can no longer keep up with the pace and demands of the position they are in.
When it comes to my leaving the church I would say that I would have fallen into the seventh one on this list. We sought through prayer and counsel and simply saw that we were at the point of conclusion at the church I was serving in. Some of the reasons were because I had several teens who were graduating and so it made it a good time to leave. Another reason was that I was not seeing eye to eye with the vision and direction of the Pastor and really things were pretty tough with the church.
Something else to go with this is that I was actually at the point of conclusion with my full time job as well. God was moving us as a family both spiritually and physically and making us pretty uncomfortable. God was moving us five hours from most of our family. We were as a family leaving many comforts of life for us. I was leaving a job that I had done very well at. My wife was leaving her family really for the first time. We were taking a risk and trusting God. There were many changes where were headed too. My wife was going to have to work and she had been a stay at home mom for the past few years. My daughter was going to have to do day care which she had never done. I was going to be working full time and taking a full load of classes. It was a rough and tough time for us but it was a time of growing and that is what it always is when God says it is time to go.
For all of us, we need to listen closely to hear God say it is time to go….
Have you ever left a job or ministry position? How did you deal with it? What was the biggest struggle in your leaving? Did you enjoy this series by myself and the others?
This post is a part of the blogging on the book Building Below the Waterline by Gordon MacDonald with two of the best bloggers out there – Bill Grandi from Cycleguy’s Spin and Michael Perkins from The Handwritten . We are sharing each Wednesday our thoughts from 2 chapters, which means you will be able to see how God will l speak to us as individuals and then you if you read all three blogs you will see how God then weaves what we write all together. I pray your are encouraged by the blogs.