7 Signs It’s Time to Leave

2. There’s no other role you could get excited about

Just because your passion is fading in one area doesn’t mean your tenure at a church is over.

Last year, I knew I didn’t want to leave my church but I found my passion for the things I was doing getting narrower.

After what was truly a few incredible months of prayer and processing with mentors and our elders, I transitioned from the Lead Pastor role at my church (being the Lead Pastor is the only role I’ve held in a church since I started) into a Founding and Teaching Pastor role.

The result? I love it. My passion is back, stronger than ever, and I’m completely excited about the future of our church.

I got to keep the parts of my job I’m most passionate about and throw my weight behind our mission for a whole new season.

If you want more on the transition (many of you have asked) I’ll share the entire story in an upcoming episode of my Leadership Podcast. (If you subscribe for free, the episode will automatically download to your phone or device when it releases.)

Your renewal may not come from leaving, but simply changing what you’re doing where you are. Just switch roles.

3. You’ve affected all the change you can

Another sign it’s time to leave is simply this: you’ve affected all the change you can.

Maintaining what you’ve built never advances your mission because it elevates what happened yesterday over what could happen today and tomorrow.

Sometimes leaders realize they’ve done as much as they can.

Perhaps a new leader will need to come in to pick up where the current leader left off because the current leader has done everything they know how to do.

Or sometimes a leader’s desire to change exceeds the congregation’s willingness to change, despite long conversations about the need to change.

How do you know your church is done changing? In this post, I outline 7 signs your church will never change.

When your church won’t change or you can no longer lead that change, it might be time to go. Otherwise, all your best days will be behind you.

And when your best days are behind you, it’s time for a new future.

4. Your vision no longer lines up with the organization’s vision

The ideal leadership environment is when the leader’s vision and the organization’s vision line up.

Naturally, a leader will always be a little ahead of the church or organization—otherwise he or she wouldn’t be a leader.

But over time, the leader’s vision and the organization’s vision can become out of sync.

Sometimes the leader has more vision than the church can handle (see Point 3 above). And sometimes the organization wants to go faster or head in a more progressive direction than the leader.

Or sometimes the visions just become different.

Great leadership requires a syncing of the leader’s vision with the organization’s direction. When that’s not true, great leadership becomes impossible.

5. You feel like a fish out of water

This is a bit of an odd one, but I’ve had it happen to me more than once—not at our church, but with different organization’s I’ve partnered with.

Sometimes you fit really well into an organization; the cultural sync is perfect. You are what they are about and they are what you’re about…or at least as close as you can get this side of heaven.

But as time goes on, you change or the organization changes. Maybe your values shift. Or as you grow as a leader, you morph into a different kind of leader than you used to be.

Maybe you’re largely the same but the organization shifts, not in terms of vision, but in terms of style, culture and feel.

The best way I can describe how that feels when it’s happened to me is that I end up feeling like a fish out of water.

What used to be so natural and easy now makes me feel like I just don’t fit—for whatever reason.

When you no longer feel like you fit, you’ll never realize your full potential as a leader. And the organization won’t realize their potential either.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.