I was twenty-two years old and in my last year of Bible college when I got a phone call from a senior pastor telling me that the vote to hire me as a church youth pastor was 35 to 5. I liked the 35 part—but was more than a little concerned about the 5 people who voted against the idea of me taking the position. When I told the senior pastor that I was a little worried about the 5 no votes, he said, “You have less no votes than I had when I accepted the call to be the senior pastor of this church!” So with some apprehension and assurance from my senior pastor, I accepted the position.
During the very first week I served in that church as youth pastor, each of the people who voted against my coming to the church decided to drop in and visit me. They came into my office one at a time and said the most hurtful things—doing their absolute best to discourage me. (Have you ever noticed that some people in church seem to believe that discouragement and criticism are their spiritual gifts—and that they want to use them on you?) “Students will never like you,” one snorted as I imagined little horns starting to protrude from his head. Another told me in no uncertain terms that I was “out of the will of God” for accepting the position — and was so angry that she got her tail caught in the door of my office as she stormed out. Another held her pitchfork tightly and flatly said, “You will ruin this church.” With the exception of the horns, tail, and pitchfork — everything in this story is as it happened.
In all seriousness, to this day — these many years later, I can still feel the sting of their words — though the hurt is not as sharp as it was once. Let me confess that I spent a full year of Sunday mornings dealing with my bitter emotions. On the outside, I appeared to be okay. But seeing “them” every Sunday wrecked me. Multiple times while my pastor was preaching his heart out, I would silently confess to God the vindictive thoughts that plagued my mind.
It’s no fun to lead when you feel like quitting. After 30+ years of trying to follow Jesus, I know. That’s why I want to invite you to take a journey of encouragement with me — via this edition of Cadre Connection. We’ll begin to unpack the art and skill of leading when you want to quit. Why? Because I’m sick and tired of seeing the best and the brightest vocational and volunteer ministers not only drop out of the ministry, but out of the faith. Hopefully, by the time we are finished, you’ll be able to apply a clear and biblical strategy for dealing with the depression, despair, and discouragement that has come to be a part of the church ministry experience. One thing is for sure. Discouragement and his ugly cousins, Despair and Depression, will try to sink their sharp bloody teeth into your very soul and take you down for the count. What’s up for grabs is: How will you deal with discouragement when it comes? That’s why you must read Leading When You Want to Quit (Free PDF Download).