This is a new series of blog posts I’m going to write fairly often, hoping that they hit many of you right where you need it today. Maybe you’re reading this shortly after I wrote it or stumbled on it from Google months later … I hope it is at just the right time. Maybe you’re not in this situation now but need to forward this to someone who is. Maybe you need to print this and drop it in the bottom of your desk in the church office for the time when you will need it. Either way … READ THIS.

READ THIS: When you feel like quitting your youth ministry

Don’t quit. Not today. You need to make sure this is the right decision. Another day won’t kill anybody. But let’s back up just a little bit:

  • Maybe you’ve been wronged by someone within the church. It hurts. You’ve put up with it long enough. They win and you’re out of here.
  • Maybe you did something wrong, you screwed up and need to bow out gracefully or are tired of the heat from the decision you made and are ready to go.
  • Every transition from youth ministry includes pain. Good pain, bad pain. Some people will cheer you on, others will just be cheering you right out the door.
  • Church ministry is difficult, leaders have to realize that it is part of the gig. Some church departures are more painful than others. Some deacons are more painful than others. Some senior pastors need to just become Christians.
  • God uses all of our experiences to grow and shape us and will use this in your future

I remember quitting youth ministry when I was maybe 3 years in. Had made every mistake in the book. Wasn’t thrilled with the senior pastor. Had a tough start. Not to mention I was kind of a tool. God used that moment to shape me for the rest of my life. No matter the situation you find yourself in right now … here are some principles I’ve walked through myself or seen others process through with wisdom.

Take some time to reflect
The worst time to quit is when you’re on fire. If you’re upset at the deacon board, don’t fly off the handle and quit in a great ball of fire. Respond with humility and meekness in and after the meeting and make sure you’re heart is settled before you make the decision. If you’re ticked at the senior pastor, don’t walk into your weekly meeting with a resignation letter in your back pocket in case it goes south. “The straw that broke the camel’s back” has claimed many impulsive youth workers in the heat of a battle. Stop. Breathe. Pray … then talk to someone.

Listen to wise counsel
You need to talk to someone. This is potentially a life-changing decision, so I say track down 3 people. (1) A wise person within the church, maybe a deacon or elder who you trust or who won’t immediately start thinking about your replacement. (2) A person who is outside of the church, who you can talk to about the situation objectively. Remember that you will probably relay the story favorably to yourself, so do your best to show both sides of the conflict. (3) A person who is your biggest fan. This person loves you enough to tell you the difficult truth, because their love for you is deeper than some pursuit or position. You need this person to speak the truth.

Commit to whatever action is necessary
So you took a step back to make sure it wasn’t impulsive and got some wisdom from counselors who had the freedom to speak into the situation. Now you need to commit to some actions. Are there some apologies that need to be made? Are there learnings you need to process yourself? Is there a realistic timeline. Set some benchmarks for improvement, or if you’re confident of your departure, plan an exit strategy.

Commit to leave well or stay well
If you decide to go … leave well. If you decide to stay … stay well. Youth ministry is full of wonderful highs and frightful lows. Youth ministry is a calling of extremes and the temptation is to sandbag the people in leadership left behind or to worse yet take people with you. Speak highly of everyone, you’ll never regret the high road.

Now … for those of you that have gone through this, what else would you add for the people living in this world today?