Pastor, When is it Time to Leave?

“And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15

Leaving a church is a difficult decision. How can we know when our time is up? When is it time for the pastor to leave?

I’d like to suggest 3 ways to know when.

1.Passion fades

When our heart is not on fire for that flock something is wrong. It may be us, or it may be that some of the people aren’t necessarily that excited we are there.

Obviously, when we first come, there is a great sense of enthusiasm and optimism. We must understand the honeymoon doesn’t last. That’s when we have to sort through the passion of our heart and see if it is still for these people.

It could be we have just lost our own way. It could be that we need to make a change in our leadership, sermon prep, or habits we have developed. We may need a refreshing conference or a break. But we have to find our passion.

It could be our heart has changed for them. Our heart may be moving toward a new work.

2.Strained Relationships

Very often there have been leadership challenges and consequences that have caused a strain in our relationships. We may have rebuked someone or even snapped at a person in a meeting. That causes ill feelings toward them or them toward us.

We have to stop and evaluate these relationships. Can they be mended? Its there something we can do to fix the hurt or anger they feel?

Most of the time the person says something like, “There is nothing wrong.” “We are fine.” But the reality is they don’t want to go through the difficult process of reconciliation. As the pastor, we must be the one to go out of our way to make things right.

However, if there are several leaders, or a plan by a few to keep the relationship strained, we cannot fix anything. We must pray that God will break through and heal hearts.

Sometimes the strain is so great the only way out is to leave—for our sake and theirs.

3.Vision is foggy

We know the verse, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

I have seen clearly that once God is moving me, my vision begins to get cloudy. The fog seems to hide what is next for the church. I can’t seem to stay certain on what is next for the church. I don’t think it’s our fault; I believe it is God’s way of saying move on.

When we lose our vision the people can’t seem to see why coming to church is important. There is a period of non-commitment to the purpose and direction of the church. Volunteers are hard to find.

This is not an exhaustive list. And any one of these three can be evident at one time or the other. But when all three are there, it is time to leave. I know we don’t go until God says, but the reality is our spirit and the church’s spirit are dying inside.

Leaving is always difficult. Some are tougher than others. But ultimately God is moving us through a series of peaks and valleys to get us where we can do the most good.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Rodney is an author, pastor, and the founder/managing editor of He has written over 200 articles and his first novel, The Rise of the Prophet, has just been released.

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