51% of all Pastors in the United States, 38% of whom are Evangelicals are seriously thinking about resigning the Pulpit. So says the Barna Group as it announced the results of its most recent survey of these Pastors.
They have had enough, these Pastors say. They now suffer from serious stress. There is pressure everywhere and problems mount. They find themselves separated from in–person ministry to which they were called and the demand from a congregation, parishioners who now more than ever demand what they want and do not give back in return. They face in the church the new consumer culture which is all about what the person wants or needs. The church and the Pastor provide that, I get what I want or I move on. Congregation divisions and demands increase. The church has become, these disgruntled Pastors say, a place of convenience rather than conviction and commitment. Enough is enough, 51% of these Pastors say and they seriously intend to join the Great American Resignation and so many fully intend to:
QUIT THE CALL.
They have lost, these Pastors have, passion for the ministry. The original motivating purpose has been tarnished. The sense of mission, GO YE and preach the Gospel the original motivating force is simply not there. Any control, the setting of priorities now becomes so very much so the decision–making of the Board of Directors and of course the congregation itself. The Pastor, once the leader of the church, now becomes the follower. The institutional church becomes more institutional, structured, changed. The still small voice of the Holy Spirit calling and leading becomes muffled, and the ears to hear which heard the original calling no longer do so.
The result for them BURN OUT. The mind becomes dull and the renewal, the transforming of that mind promised and required by scripture through the work of the Holy Spirit wanes. Heart and soul lose passion. The body weakens and says the Pastor, it is time to move on. The CALL once so clearly heard is replaced by the mentality and the waning spirituality of THE GREAT QUIT:
THE GREAT RESIGNATION.
To some extent, that can be understood. Think of the calling of the Apostle Paul. This ardent, persecuting Pharisee when radically changed on the Damascus Road found his new life ship–wrecked, his body beaten and persecuted, imprisoned, hated, betrayed by so many in whom he placed confidence and eventually beheaded by the Roman Emperor. In spite of all of that, Paul never quit. He knew who he was, what he was called to do and the life that Christ of Glory expected. I know a very few Pastors who have ever had that kind of Christian persecution. What prompts THE QUIT today is nothing like it was in the time of Paul.
Even our Lord, Jesus Christ wanted to quit. Recall His prayer in Gethsemane where he asked His Father to let this cup, the coming crucifixion and brutal death pass from Him. Let me move on, let me continue my ministry, change your mind and my priorities, FATHER. But, no way. But then, He knew what He had to do, that for which He was called, that for which He was sent and in loving compliance, He prayed to the Father:
BUT, NOT MY WILL
BUT YOUR WILL BE DONE!
If the Apostle Paul was attempted to quit, or even thought about it, and if the Lord of Glory not only thought about it but proposed it, so it is natural for any of us, Christians and called, to suffer a certain amount of BURN OUT and wish to change, to quit. We can be tempted to resign the Great Calling (the Devil’s work) and give up, a temptation of 51% of current Pastors. That temptation grows as the Pastor loses leadership, control, the ability to say NO. As priorities change and demand, pressure and stress increased, that Pastor and that original commitment to Christ, change as well, wane and suffer the lose of love and passion.
But these Pastors, these Christian leaders must get away. They need to be RENEWED. They need time alone with the Holy Spirit, in prayer and meditation, the renewing of the mind and the spirit, and the relaxation and pleasure of the body. Jesus went to the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. He was both tempted and strengthened. But He was made better by the experience for the incredible ministry He undertook. He withdrew from the crowds in the course of the ministry when their demand was too much. Even separated from his disciples from time to time as they so often became sources of annoyance. In prayer, in fasting, and in feasting, HE was constantly about the business of RENEWING. He always knew who He was and what His purpose, His calling as the man from Galilee would be. He never swerved, changed or ever thought about THE QUIT.
If you are called, truly called and you know that call, and you QUIT THAT CALL, you can never be content, fulfilled from that point forward if you QUIT THE CALL. Women who are called to be mothers, an incredibly high calling, can never QUIT MOTHERING, never. If you are called to be lawyer, accountant, plumber, truck driver, if you abandon that call, your life can never be entirely fulfilled.
For the call, as Paul so well states, is that ONE THING for you to do. And you should do that one thing, in the service of the Lord, with all your might. You should fight the fight of faith and not quit. You should run the race to the finish and not quit. You should PRESS ON for the prize of that HIGH CALLING. You should be strong in the Lord knowing that no matter how difficult the calling or the problems involved, YOU AND I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
The great theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that we are called, we come to Christianity:
And Paul says the same. For him and for us, to live is CHRIST and to:
DIE IS GAIN.
A true born–again Christian, a man or woman truly called by Jesus Christ is never afraid of dying, much less the lesser problems which this world creates. We who are truly Christian, followers of Jesus Christ, are constantly strengthened, empowered, protected. We are energized, renewed, able to resist the temptations of the Evil One finishing the course, the calling.
So, Pastor, or anyone for that matter, if you are truly called by Jesus Christ DON’T QUIT. Don’t join the Great American Resignation. Stay the course, pursue your sacred calling and know in this COVID day and age more than ever:
YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO CALLED YOU AND STRENGTHENS YOU!