Can I quit? I want to.

I’ve been a co-lead pastor for a church for less than a year. I’m tired. The first time I wanted to quit, my senior pastor said…

If you can do anything else in your life, and believe that is indeed what God wants you to do, then do it.

Ed Eby

I might have gotten it wrong in the literal sense, but not in the intended one. That quote has been my lifeline during the last 18 years of ministry, and it remains so.

I remember people gasping when I told them this was the best piece of advice for pursing the path of pastor. Then I told them that it is that advice that has kept me in ministry despite bad situations (both received and delivered), far too many moves, a feeling that this is not it (whatever it is).

This is the piece of advice that helped to provide endurance while working bivocationally (have until now).

The culture is a complete mess. I am not convinced a pastor can speak to or even against culture, because culture isn’t even sure of itself.

I want to go back to my old job, which I generally disliked, but everything was straightforward. I knew my personal goals and requirements. No one thought I and/or my wife were the silver bullet to fix everything.

Yet, I can’t. Do I think full time compensated ministry will be my future until I retire (Does one really ever retire from ministry?)? Currently, no. I think something else will done.

I still cannot escape the call.

I would love to escape the need to express my understanding of holiness and ethics, and not have the tension of politics, friendships, or being labeled woke or hateful. I know I’m not the only pastor that feels that way.

In regard to theology, I am not a fundamentalist, but I’ve been called that. In regard to theology, I’ve been called progressive and liberal, but I know that things I understand to be true don’t fit there.

I am who I am.

I land on biblical issues often because that is how I understand the Bible and God’s revelation. They often are not the answers I prefer.

“If your God…” is a whip used often to coerce people into someone else’s box. When someone opens a statement with, “if your God…,” should I even bother to reply? If I do not answer it with the precise way they want (no nuance; usually some huge generic answer), then, that may well be a relationship destroyed.

I wish I could answer for every Christian (especially pastors) who are mean, bullies, abusers, and the like, but I will be thrown into the same proverbial pool with them if I even sound like I agree with them on one issue.

Do I struggle with the reality that equally devout Christians end up in different “camps” on issues? Especially issues that are particularly culturally relevant (and, as such, often toxic to even talk about)? Yep.

It’s exhausting. It would be so much easier to resign as pastor and surrender my credentials. I’m actually amazed that even through all my bouts of depression that hasn’t happened.

Would God honor my decision to quit? Well, in a sense, I suppose. Would I be honoring the faith I hold to, in particular my faith in God? Probably not.

There may be a day—before I die—that God releases me from ministry. Despite the shrinking of the church, the increasing animosity toward the church (some deserved), the demise of the last century’s (perhaps, much longer) model of church, I am not released.

I sometimes feel stupidly obstinate in this (even before the co-lead pastorate). I’ve have learned through the years that when my avenues of pursuit keep blowing up in my face, I should take a different path.

Yet, here I am, and here I remain.