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SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

It’s the last day of 2020.

2020 has been a bear of a year for everybody . . . especially leaders. Pastors are telling me, “John, it feels like the struggle has no end to it.” “I’m not sure how much longer I can hang in there.”

Today’s post explores the subject of staying or leaving, and unpacks critical questions to answer before you decide to leave your current assignment.

Barna is predicting a significant exodus from pastoral ministry in 2021. Converge Coaching is going to do everything in our power (with God’s help of course) to minimize that exodus. That’s why I’m writing today about the subject of staying or leaving.

Making decisions when you’re tired, exhausted or depressed is almost always inadvisable. So here are three things to consider before you leave:

Am I healthy enough to make a good decision?

  1. Spiritually – What’s my walk with God been like . . . really? Am I attuned to His voice? What has His word been showing me?
  2. Mentally/Emotionally – What kind of thoughts have been dominating my mind? What emotions have I attached to them? Are those thoughts and emotions consistent with the truth?
  3. Relationally – More on this one in a minute.

You’ll make a better decision when these three key foundational pillars are in good shape. Get healthier before you make a major decision or move.

Is God sending me or am I running away?

God calling you to a new assignment is way different than wanting to get out of Dodge.

In February 2017, I was serving in a part-time capacity as a campus pastor. The campus was doing well. (We had a great group of leaders who made it happen.) But I sensed a deep yearning to get back to full time with Converge Coaching, and I approached our pastor about the upcoming transition I was sensing. Everything at the campus was moving with great momentum. There was a minimal amount of people issues. It’s was just time to give full attention to my primary assignment. I wasn’t running away from problems—I was being sent once again toward my life’s calling.

If your primary reason for considering a departure is “I just want to get out of here,” take caution. That’s not enough of a reason to jet. Consider this questions first: What is God sending you to?

If it’s you sending you, trouble likely awaits. Now . . . some situations are so toxic and dehumanizing you may need to just get out—but I believe these are the exception.

Am I flying solo or do I have a team helping me process this decision?

Earlier we mentioned one of the parameters of health had to do with our relationships. So let me ask you: What is your spouse saying about the possibility of you moving on? Do you have a coach or a mentor walking with you? Are there trusted friends who’ll tell you the truth journeying alongside you? You can try to make the decision alone—but why would you?

In my opinion, very few leaders (if any) can make a healthy transition decision flying solo. Being able to talk through the inputs of your decision, bouncing ideas off of people who will shoot straight with you, and having a team of people praying with you just makes too much sense. Do your best to avoid making career calls in a relational vacuum.

Sometimes, staying is the right decision. Sometimes leaving is the proper call. Staying at your post (especially if you’ve been there for less than seven years) is usually advisable. Most pastors who leave do so too soon. A few hang on too long.

Pastor, when leadership just feels heavy and not worth doing anymore, ask yourself these three questions—Am I healthy enough to make a good decision? Is God sending me or am I running away? Am I flying solo or do I have a team helping me process this decision—and come back with solid answers to all three before you decide to stay or to leave.

I’m rooting and praying for you,

John

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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