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When Pastors Step Down for Good Reasons

A pastor I know recently stepped down from his position after a few years in his church. The church had grown to a healthy and stable size, and he sensed God wanted him to move on.

Another pastor had invested a good number of years in a church, but sensed God wanted him to switch to another ministry. He gracefully handed over the reigns to a younger pastor who had been prepared to take over.

I know another pastor who spends most of his day just meeting with people and encouraging them.

This is not empire-building.

This is not the way to get invited to speak at a church planting success conference or to land a book deal.

I used to bow down at the altar of big numbers, big programs, and big buildings.

I think most of us know on paper that it is wrong to say that size equals success, but it’s hard to look past the “big” things. It’s still shocking when someone willingly walks away from something big.

These pastors worship a God who redefines results, who gave success that was made to be passed to others, and who treasure relationships over organizations.

I’ve seen God use big things. I’ve seen God use pastors involved in big things. Big is not necessarily the problem. The problem is when big becomes the idol—the sole marker of success, health, or faithfulness. We’re not all made for big. Most of us may even do better in small, even if we can handle big. One of my seminary professors once shared that the best big churches can do small better than some small churches.

Either way, we need the small things. The small groups, the one on one prayer, the friendships, the cookouts, and the heart to heart conversations around a dinner table.