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Ed Stetzer: 5 Attitudes to Have When You Are in an Unhealthy Place

However, the reality is, in some cases you may need to stay. If that is the case, and if you believe God wants you to stay, I’d suggest these attitudes:

Don’t be afraid.

Fear makes you cower rather than live in courage. Recognize you are in an unhealthy organization, but don’t become an unhealthy servant. I assure you, this will make you stand out (and people will say bad things), but don’t be a coward for any reason. Choose faith that God is at work over fear that you are on your own. Don’t walk on eggshells; walk closely to Jesus who has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

Make a difference where you can.

When I served in unhealthy places, I simply asked, “What can I do here, now?” And when you are not scurrying about in fear, you can get much done for the kingdom. I was able to encourage a lot of people — often those living in the same toxic culture. Focus on what you can do rather than what is not healthy.


Speak the truth.

Don’t be afraid to tell the truth about the culture, and when appropriate, the leadership. There will probably be some pushback, or even retaliation, but as you tell the truth with grace and humility, you may be heard — or it may reveal that you need to go.


Recognize that the Lord may have other reasons for keeping you in your position.

Perhaps you have another ministry in your city or church. If that is the case, contribute where you can in your job, recognize how it provides for your family, but focus your energies on your ministry. I know some who continue to work in unhealthy organizations, but stay out of devotion to their local church ministry or other calling. They endure the unhealthy organization to pursue their calling with joy.


Give careful attention to protect your walk with God and your joy in service to Him.

There are times when we are called to serve in places that are hard for a variety of reasons. In these times, we must give special focus to our daily fellowship with God and our worship of Him.


These are not easy answers. It may be that some are struggling in their places of service and don’t know where to turn. I encourage you to pray and seek the Lord’s wisdom in your calling. It may be that you will be called to do some difficult yet courageous things.


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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.