Like many people, I was totally surprised when Pope Benedict XVI resigned back in 2013. To step down from ministry leadership at any level takes a lot of courage, but it’s especially rare to see a leader who has so much power step down by choice. Many times, leaders’ reasons to step down from ministry include the loss of an election, the end of a term, or a scandal that’s unfolding or revealed. All ministry leaders have much to learn from Pope Benedict XVI’s actions.
You won’t be the leader of your ministry forever. One day, you’ll have to step down because of some kind of life change. It’s important to recognize this transition ahead of time so that you can take the necessary steps to transfer power. How do you know when you need to step down?
Here are 4 main reasons to step down from ministry:
1. When resentment builds up
Your calling is going to have its rough moments; however, it should be fulfilling and rewarding. Once you start resenting the people you lead and work with, it’s a sign that you might have to step down. The best way to figure this out is by taking a break so you can clear your mind and your heart. If you resent the idea of going back, think about stepping down.
2. When labor outweighs the fruit
Sometimes the work becomes too much. You might enjoy what you’re doing; however, the physical and financial toll are too much. Sometimes in these situations, you can alleviate the work by seeking help; however, in the end, you need to be able to handle the work.
3. When the vision becomes blurred
It’s easy to get sidetracked off of your vision. As your responsibility increases, so do your distractions. A leader needs to stay focused on the vision, or else it can take him or her on a tangent that could lead them down a path of destruction.
4. When it’s no longer a calling
You enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re serving; however, God has placed on your heart a different calling. This means embracing the direction in which he has called you and taking the steps to hand over leadership to someone else. This can be emotional because you feel obligated to fulfill a commitment; however, this new path excites you.
Before you feel that need to step away, make sure you’re consistently delegating responsibility to future leaders. This is a practice in replacing yourself as a leader. You never want to build a program or ministry on your own shoulders; therefore, you need to look at surrounding yourself with people who can step in when you need to step down.
How do you know when you need to step down? Have you ever had that experience?