Quitting and Breakthroughs

Here’s a thought.

You will be most tempted to quit moments before the critical breakthrough

I don’t know whether this is true…but, personally and more broadly, I believe it’s often true.

Think about it:

Tenure. The average tenure in of lead pastors is 3-5 years.  For a student pastor, it’s 12-24 months.  What if we’re quitting before anything significant happens?  While I’ve served in two congregations, I’ve essentially served the same community for 15 years.  I still feel like our best days are ahead of us.  How can you really get to know people in 3 years, or 3 months?  How can you build trust?  How can you generate a movement?  (I know Jesus did, but he prepared for 30 years first.  And none of the rest of us are Jesus, actually).

Projects.  I’m a bit ADD, but I think I’m tempted to quit before the best idea emerges.  I can settle too early.  Or I can abandon ideas as unfruitful before I really mine their potential.  My best expression of a series or message often happens after I’ve written and rewritten the text and find myself verbally explaining what I mean to our service programming team and suddenly discover that I said it better out loud than I did in hours of writing about it.  If I didn’t walk it into the final meeting, it may never have reached it’s best expression.

Directions. When I’m not sure where I’m going (or am convinced the GPS is wrong), I am often tempted to turn around exactly one block before we reach our intended destination.  This is so true I think I must be telepathic, or telepathetic.

Biblically.  Just face it.  If you were Noah, Joseph, Daniel, Paul or any other biblical character, you would have concluded God had abandoned you long before your greatest moments arrived.  Who wants to build an ark for years, stay in prison, get fed to lions or wait in exile 14 years after conversion?  Exactly.  Most of us would have bailed on God long before any of that was over.

I want be there for the break through.  How about you?


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  3. Carey on March 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement Todd.

    Jonathan…you ask a great question. I’m thinking that perhaps some of the short tenure is related to trying to change long standing pattern within congregations. I know that’s hard work. I wonder if also sometimes people tend to leave because of opposition and believe that it would just be easier with a new set of people. I know these observations can sound negative, but I have heard leaders share them again and again over the years.

  4. Todd D on March 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Could not agree more. My study of God’s Word this past year has compelled me to see endurance/perseverance/steadfastness as a defining characteristic of leaders and followers. And among my greatest temptations as a pastor has been the desire to bail out when things started to get tough…just when God was about to do something extraordinary.

    A great word, Carey.

  5. Jonathan on March 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Good stuff Carey! Let me ask you, Why do you think tenures of pastors are so low? Do you think it has more to do with the mentality of pastors or how pastors are treated within a church? I am a young pastor in my first role as an adult discipleship type role. Just wanted to get your take on it.



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