5 Reasons Why Leaders Quit

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Every church leader I’ve chatted with has done serious battle with discouragement, says Perry Noble.

#1 – Burnout

I once heard someone say, “I would rather burn out than rust out.”  Uh…BOTH are bad because NEITHER of them finish well.  Too many people in the ministry work themselves into a frenzy, never take time to disconnect and refresh, and do absolutely nothing for fun–this always ends badly!

When it comes to leadership circles in America, we’ve equated being busy with being godly; however, the haunting reality that confronts that idea is what God Himself said in Psalm 46:10, “BE STILL and know that I am God,” not “be busy!”

If we are not taking regular breaks, doing things “just for fun,” and disconnecting, then burnout isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when!”

#2 – Unrealistic Expectations

Too many people believe that “ministry = easy” despite the fact that it seemed to go really badly for everyone in the Scriptures that sold their lives out to Him!  Jesus went to the “place of the skull” to be crucified…why would we ever believe He would lead us to “the place of the mattress?”

When we impose our plans and ideas on God and refuse to surrender to His, it usually leads to people “giving up” because “God just didn’t come through.”

#3 – Criticism

Criticism hurts, it always will, and if it ever doesn’t, then, according to my counselor, something is dead inside of you.  And it is always personal (especially when someone begins with, “Don’t take this personally, but…).

You can’t let the critics dictate what you think/feel!  If you have a ministry that constantly responds to critics, then you will not have one that responds to Jesus.  You MUST respond to the people who God has placed in your life to surround you and protect you–that’s not criticism but rather correction.  However, you cannot allow those who know you the least to control you the most–period!

#4 – Discouragement

Every church leader I’ve ever chatted with has done some serious battles with discouragement.  After your message on Sunday, the enemy comes in and begins to accuse you, telling you that you did a pathetic job and that no one is going to come back next week.  I’ve had to battle discouragement during the message before, hearing voices inside of my head saying things like, “You stink, these people hate you…you need to quit the ministry…” and so on.

This is why it is essential for leaders to get in a place like David did in I Samuel 30:1-6.  David faced an incredibly discouraging situation and yet somehow managed to find His strength in the Lord.  I do this by reading through encouraging letters and e-mails that I’ve received in the past, placing myself in encouraging environments, and focusing on what God’s Word says about me.

#5 – Losing Focus on God’s Power

When we actually believe it is up to us to make people come back to church every week rather than believing we are conduits that God wants to work through to do that very thing…it’s over!  Because we fall into the trap of trying to outdo ourselves every week, every series and every year and prayer/seeking the Lord become some things we love to talk about but fail to do.  He saves…He draws people…and He uses us to do it.  It’s not up to us but rather we need to allow Him to work through us to accomplish all that He wants to do!

Face it; on our own, we don’t have enough power to blow our noses.  We need Him. He is the game changer!

Perry Noble Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. The church averages 26,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state. Perry is a gifted communicator and teacher, convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible. God has given him a vision and a passion for helping people meet Jesus, and each week he shares God’s word and its practical application in our daily lives. Perry, his wife Lucretia and their daughter Charisse live in Anderson, South Carolina. You can read all of Perry’s unfiltered thoughts about life and leadership at PerryNoble.com. Don’t worry, he holds nothing back.

More from Perry Noble or visit Perry at http://www.perrynoble.com

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  • Bruce

    I love your article, I think I am going to write one on Why associates and "Armour bearers" (although there is no such thing in the new testament church) quit, we seem to be in a quitting stage in church history, lets see if we can work it out

  • Billy Weems

    Good article. I think that you covereed the bases well. I would like to add that when it does become personal, attacks on you , or especially those aimed you by hitting your family therre needs to be a time out for pastoral famillies as wellas for the pastor. Over the years we have seen even our small (now grown) children, attacked by parents who were angry with us, by not allowing their children to play with ours. Yes, we get burned out, criticized, dicouraged, we have unrealistic expectation, and we somoetimes loose focus! But thank God for His wonderful grace, good friends, great memories, our familes, and our true friends, who are seldom current church members. These things get us through the triqls and tribulations. I do agree, one of those means of grace is to "take some time off!" I wish I had had enough sense in the early years of my ministry to do this more.

  • Art

    May be why pastors quit – not sure these are reasons why "leaders" quit… maybe ask some leaders…

  • Raymond Smith

    A lot of ministry training facilities do not address this subject, which is so important. I am convinced that anyone entering the ministry would be better equipped to deal with these things if they were and the fall out rate would drop.

    I strand for dealing with this is good and true friends, such people are invaluable. Friends who can speak into your life and stand with you when these kind thing start to rise. [b]Proverbs 27:6 [i]“Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”[/[/i]b]

  • cc

    I'm not a pastor but it seems to me that the pastors that quit or "burn out" aren't believing the Bible when it says that if you are suffering persecution then rejoice, or in whatever circumstances you are in "be content". Think on the good. Paul went through a hell on earth to preach the gospel with numerous beatings, being jailed, shipwrecked not to forget the "thorn in his side". Too many preachers think they shouldn't have any problems because after all, they're preaching God's word. They, of all people, should know that the problems they suffer is part of God's plan to keep them humble and molding them in " fiery" trials to become the "elect" to reign with Jesus.

  • Brian

    I think the reasons you mentioned in this article are true, but the list is not complete. I happen to be onte of those Pastors who "quit". I didn't want to quit, but the people in our church did not want to change. I preached God's Word faithfully, I didn't give up. I took much beating and criticism, yet I persevered and so did my wife. Yet it came down to the fact that the people in the church were not responding to God's Word and they were not following His commands. Even my superiors thought it was best that I just step down and let the church die. Who knows why God allowed this to happen? One idea; "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

  • Del Hickson

    I really appreciated point #1 about burnout. We need to take time to slow down, reflect on God’s goodness and be grateful. In my blog I recently wrote an article about “Hurry-up sickness.”
    Del Hickson http://www.TheLifeCoach.com

  • expatmanca

    #4 really hit me, especially the Sunday after a sermon where I felt everything went wrong. I guess I shouldn’t forget that preaching is just as much spiritual battle as is the rest of life.

  • Carlis Sittol

    i really appreaciate this document

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NTIDUG5XJPJR2JKJKXTO7QNNCA Zeekster

    I along with many others would contest these are the reason’s for people leaving the ministry. Perhaps hearing from the people themselves would tell the real story. Other reasons may include:

    – Spiritual abuse and subtle manipulation by Pastoral leadership.
    – Board members imposing their own will and agenda
    – Broken promises
    – A value of function over relationship
    – A value of empire over Kingdom

  • Disgus

    The reason I resigned is not mentioned in your article. After serving for 6 years in a leadership position in our Baptist association (of an Eastern European country), the association board, when faced with a major sexual scandal, with one of the local pastors accused of sexually harassing three underage (at the time) girls, decided to brush the matter under the carpet. When I and another colleague stood up against this unbelievable course of action, one of the pastors attending the meeting blew a fuse and asked that the two of us be disciplined immediately for stirring trouble. 
    Flabbergasted at the total lack of reaction  from the other pastors present, I decided to resign, out of sheer disgust. I did not feel burn-out or anything else related to the issues you mentioned. Literally, I felt like throwing up and I had to leave the room. I must mention that I had been fighting a losing battle for more than a year against this guy and his supporters, some of them in the national leadership of the Baptist church. So, maybe, in view of a nauseating tendency of some leaders to hide the sin of fellow religious leaders, one simply has to dissociate himself as strongly as possible from such Elis (1 Samuel 1-4).

  • Diamond Philus

    Well written! To many leaders it is very . Thanks for the article. That’s why the Lord said to Joshua to be strong and courageous. Paul reminds timid Timothy to be strong. When we try to do the Lord’s work with our own strength and ability, we will fail. We need to depend on the One who has called us to His ministry.

  • Samuel

    I would like to ask, in my case, I am thinking of quitting because in all honesty, the team I am leading don’t want a leader but rather a manager. They want to dictate where they want to go, and need a manager to put that to effect. I have big dreams and visions of what I want my ministry to become, and the followers here, do not consider that one bit, my reason for leaving is that, its becoming obvious that where I want to go, and where the team want to go, are two very different places.


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