I once heard a chapel speaker tell an audience of preacher students that if they didn’t conduct themselves in a Christ-like manner, the brethren would give them a gift certificate to U-Haul; a nice way of saying “It is time for you to move!” This bit of humor has become synonymous with preacher discouragement, firing, and choosing to move.
Check it out. Most preachers resign on Monday. This day is called “Blue Monday” by some preachers. Have you ever wondered why? As a preacher for more that 50-plus years, associating with preachers, as well as training preachers, I know one major reason. They are drained from Sunday’s activities. Most preachers have three major lessons they must present on Sunday: (1) a Bible class, (2) a sermon, and (3) an evening class or sermon. This doesn’t include the visiting, meetings, and other ministry involvement. Discouragement is a major reason!
Preachers and Discouragement
Those who study the physical and emotional drain on the preacher after three 20 to 45 minute lessons on Sunday, conclude the drain is equivalent to eight to twelve hours of the energy drain of digging ditches or engaging in some other strenuous physical activity. The preacher is tired. He is emotionally drained. He has a “downer hangover” from Sunday. He is discouraged. Why? There may be several reasons for the preacher being discouraged on Monday (Or on other days):
- Numbers matter and the numbers were down; low attendance is discouraging.
- Falling short of personal expectations in what the sermon would accomplish.
- Negative feedback from some “key” brethren.
- A continuing lack of change in brethren and leadership. Status quo doesn’t change.
- There is a continual feeling of isolation; the “Long Ranger Syndrome.”
- Insincere feedback: “I enjoyed your little talk.”
- The frustrations that have continued to accumulate week after week.
- Pressure on family; especially on the children.
- Ministry burnout—every energy plug is pulled. Running on empty.
- Feel like work is not appreciated or understood.
- Unhelpful comparison of self with others or another preacher.
- Feel like locked in a rut can’t escape from.
- Spiritual laziness. Feel like there is no use or reason to keep on.
- Personal issues not related to preaching or ministry.
- Thinking labor is fruitless, futile, and failing.
- A list of suggestions and plans continually turned down by church leaders.
- Unresolved conflict with leadership.
- Unresolved conflict among members.
- A note from a member who was leaving to “be fed” in another congregation.
- Personal health problems—health insurance not sufficient
A very discouraged and overworked preacher went every day to the railroad tracks to watch an express train streak by. An observer asked, “Preacher, why do you come here every day to see the Dixie Flyer go by?” The preacher responded, “Well, I do like to see something I don’t have to push!” Does that get you discouraged? You are not alone (Knights’ Treasury of Illustrations).
Discouragement is the occupational hazard of preaching. Read my book Preventing Ministry Burnout for additional information and helps on this subject (amazon. com).
As the times continue to change more and more pressure and demands are placed on the preacher’s shoulders. Members, who are becoming less and less involved in church activities, are having higher and higher expectations of the full-time preacher. Some think of him as a “hireling” who is employed to “do ministry for them.” He has “a hundred bosses.”
Why I Haven’t Resigned
It is easy to find reasons to resign but it takes courage, openness, and commitment to keep the preaching fires burning bright hot (cf. Jeremiah 20:8, 9). During my 50-plus years of preaching I have thought about resigning many times; many of the reasons are in the previous 20 causes of discouragement. I have even written letters of resignation but never turned them in. But like Jeremiah, the fire was still in my bones and I couldn’t quit (Jeremiah 20:8, 9). Thank God.
In my reasons for not resigning I am talking about what is normally called “Full-time ministry” with a congregation; not quitting preaching in a free-lance context.
- I haven’t resigned because I work for God, not for man. We are co-workers (1 Corinthians 3:7-10). My Father is my “boss” and my rewarder.
- I haven’t resigned because I am privileged to handle God’s treasure—the Gospel—the only power that can save lost mankind (Romans 1:14-16). It is God’s dynamite.
- I haven’t resigned because I am following in the footsteps of the greatest Preacher who has ever preached—Jesus Christ (Mark 1:38). He never looked back. His faithful preaching took Him to a cross.
- I haven’t resigned because I know my task is to preach, not police. It is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:1-8). I know it is considered “foolishness” by many (1 Corinthians 1:21-23). It is wonderful to be a “fool for the Gospel’s sake.”
- I haven’t resigned because I am blessed to minister to, and with, the greatest people in the world—my brethren. It is a beautiful blessing (cf. Psalm 133).
- I haven’t resigned because I will not allow Satan to cause me to resign my commission as a soldier of Christ (2 Timothy 2:1-4). I must keep on fighting (2Timothy 4:6-8).
- I haven’t resigned because I must practice what I preach to others: “Be faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10). It’s not over until it is over, when I have taken my last breath and preached my last sermon.
- I haven’t resigned because I have been given so much to use for the Lord (Luke 12:48). I daily thank God for allowing me to be in the ministry full-time.
- I haven’t resigned because I am called by the Gospel to preach the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14; Matthew 28:18-20). I have an obligation to tell the starving where to find the Bread of
- I haven’t resigned because I may reach another soul, snatching it out of the fire (Jude 23). The burden of what happens to a lost souls (Mark 8:34-38; Luke 16:19-31).
- I haven’t resigned because I continually remember that “I am called to suffer like Christ suffered” (Philippians 1:29). I’m not going to let Satan or brethren cause me to wimp-out.
- I haven’t resigned “because the workers are few.” I have spent years preparing to “fight the good fight of faith.” A lost world needs the Gospel now, because there are so many who are lost, more than ever before (1 John 5:19).
- I haven’t resigned because I daily work on having the “attitude of Christ” (Philippians 2:4-9); as I seek to set my “mind on things above” (Colossians 3:1, 2).
- I haven’t resigned because my validation comes from God, not from brethren. Sometimes this is hard to remember but it is true (Matthew 25:21).
- I haven’t resigned because I want to be an example. I have spent years training preachers; encouraging them not to quit. The same is true relative to encouraging Christians not to quit serving the Lord (cf. 1 Timothy 4:12).
- I haven’t resigned because I want to hear these words, ”Well done My good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of heaven.”
Yes! Yes I have thought many times in the 50-pluss years of full-time preaching that I wanted to resign. But thanks be to God, it was only a temporary laps. Discouragement is real; it is not bad unless we allow it to cause us to “neglect the gift” that is in us. God’s only “Begotten Son” was a preacher. I am following in the “steps of my elder brother”—Jesus Christ. “I must go into the next towns that I may preach there also, because that is why I have come forth” (Mark 1:38).
Instead of resigning— I choose to REIGNITE! Oh yes. I’ll use the gift certificate to U-Haul to get a trailer to haul away some trash.