By Ron Cook

Ron and his wife Rodetta have been married for 41 years. They have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. Ron ministers to hundreds of pastors annually through mentorship, counseling, and by phone. He has been a Pastor for 40 years and understands the stress of ministry, and wants to share his longevity in ministry with other pastors and help them finish well.

    Should I Stay or Should I Go?

    Wednesday, April 03, 2024

    Those of us who have been in ministry for any amount of time have asked the question, “Should I stay or should I go?” many times. Sometimes we are not given the option of staying. A small group of what has been called “Clergy Killers” decides it is in the best interest of the church that the pastor needs to leave. This is the church political code for, “Too many changes are happening and too many new people are coming to church, so we’d better do something before this is no longer OUR church.”

    Being forced out of a church is painful on everyone involved: the pastor, his family and the church at large. In those situations, the decision is made for the pastor. As deep as the feelings of hurt and rejection may be, quite often this is God’s way of protecting His servant leader and family from an even deeper hurt.

    What you should do before making a decision

    There are multiple scenarios that cause us to question, “Should I stay or should I go?” Counselors that deal with the grief associated with the death of a loved one generally counsel the family member to make no major decisions for at least a year. This gives the individual time to deal with all the emotions and feelings of the loss of the loved one. With that in mind, the question of “Should I stay or should I go” should not be entertained until there is a spiritual equilibrium. In other words, don’t make a decision based solely on hurt, rejection, anger or a desire to get even. Let those emotions settle so they are not clouding the decision. You may be in an environment that is so hurtful you cannot see clear enough to make a good decision. If that is the case, seek outside counsel, which is not a weakness but strength. Too often in ministry, we are so close to the situation we cannot see the forest for all the trees distorting the big picture.

    Sometimes the situation is so toxic that to stay has the potential of total destruction of ministry and/or the marriage. But due to the fear of the unknown and the step of faith necessary to leave a toxic ministry, a decision is made to stay often with great cost. Again, it is advisable to seek wise outside counsel before making a decision to stay or go.

    When I have been faced with the question of staying or going, my simple prayer has been, “God keep us close enough to you that you will not allow us to make a wrong choice or decision.” My heavenly Father has honored this simple prayer of faith over and over. Sometimes it has been with a release, and sometimes with “Not yet” as the answer. Both answers are accompanied with a great sense of peace. When the answer has been stay, the circumstances around me didn’t necessarily change, but how I viewed the circumstances radically changed.

    So before you ask the question again, make sure you are spiritually healthy and balanced enough to hear the answer. And if you’re not sure what to do, know we’re here to help. Reach out to us.

    Help us continue providing resources of care for pastors and their families.

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