Home > Ministry > “I’m done. I quit.”

“I’m done. I quit.”

(This is my 3rd post about my journey in, out, and eventually back into ministry.)

Angela and I graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in May 1992.  Two weeks later, on May 23rd, after nearly three years of dating, we married.  She got a job with a social work agency in Abilene, and I began graduate school at Hardin-Simmons.  They’d offered me a graduate assistantship, which meant a small stipend and a full scholarship.

Life kept getting better, except for one thing.


Nothing had changed.

I began to dislike going, and on some days, I would’ve rather been anywhere else.

I suppose that other people have this same feeling, but I wonder how many (if any) of them were also the pastor of the church.  My job involved leading this church and creating an air of interest so that people would want to come so that people could hear and learn about God’s hope, forgiveness, grace, love, renewal, and strength in the midst of a chaotic life.  My frustrations in being the pastor of this church had overwhelmed me to the point that I felt as if someone were slowly suffocating me.  Where was I leading them?

I couldn’t figure out why nothing at this church worked.  In school, I continued to get straight A’s.  When I took a part-time job here or there, I would be praised by the employer.  I could see results and I could see success.

At the church, I saw none of that.

However, I should make one thing clear about this church.  Not once did anyone in the church ever say a negative word to me.  Rather, they told me what a wonderful job I continued to do.  “Great sermon” or “We love your preaching.”

The critiques about the church all came from me.  Despite what they said, I could see that things weren’t working.  We had fewer and fewer people choosing to be a part of this church.  If something didn’t change, this church would have no future.

I would have no future.

I realized that I probably wouldn’t be the pastor of this church forever, but I wondered what church would ever be interested in hiring me after looking at my efforts here.

“Hmm, you led that church into closing its doors.  That’s not quite the sort of pastor we’re looking for.  Thanks anyway.”

I saw my future tied to the future of this church, and we were both going down together.

Was this what God had designed for me?

I wondered if I had misunderstood this calling to ministry.  Had I gotten it wrong?  Had I misheard?

But what about the circumstances that had led me to this church?  Those seemed pretty evident to me, but what had been the purpose?  Why had God orchestrated events to lead me to this place?

Why did God want me to fail?

Where had I gone wrong?

Had God chosen to punish me for something I’d done?  If so, what was that thing?

Or perhaps it would be like this for the rest of my life?  Could I take the frustration and misery and the slow burning anger?  Would I always be this miserable?

I wondered if I should talk to someone, but I didn’t know who to call.  Did I need to see someone about all these thoughts swirling about in my head?  Did I need to get some advice from someone who could help turn this church around?

Mentally paralyzed, I talked to no one.

I struggled on for a few more months, before I gave up.  I could not continue like this.  One Sunday morning, on the way to church, I told Angela that I wanted to quit.

“I’ll support you in whatever you decide to do.”

After the end of the morning service, I told the church that I had one more thing to say.  “I’ve decided to resign as pastor of this church.”

I think they were shocked, but then they asked, “Will you be staying on for a couple of weeks?”

I hadn’t thought that far in advance.  I had only thought of resigning.

“I’m sorry.  I’m done.”

I was so spent and so drained, maybe even a little depressed, that I couldn’t even give them another Sunday much less two.

On the way home, I felt relieved.  I didn’t have to worry about this church and all the problems anymore.  It was over.  A burden had been lifted off my shoulders.

But the removal of that burden only made room for another to soon take its place.

Previous posts on this adventure
“Why me?  Why here?”
“I Give Up!”

Categories: Ministry
  1. February 12, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I can’t wait to read about what was next. I do feel the need to share that your sermons are great. Maybe that church wasn’t a fit, but it wasn’t because of your talent.

    • February 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks for the kind comments. It was adventure. And what an adventure to have when your 21-22 years old. I was in way over my head.

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