5 Reasons Ministers Quit

by: Clayton King

Ministry can be a lonely endeavor, if you let it.  There are few careers that tend to isolate you like the one I am called to.  To be sure, you can become a Lone Ranger in any line of work if you choose to, but by nature, ministry seems to push us away from the very people we are called to love and serve.  The more we give and pour ourselves out, the greater the tendency to pull away from deep, personal friendships and ultimately, a deep abiding relationship with Christ Himself.

The more we give and pour ourselves out, the greater the tendency to pull away from deep, personal friendships and ultimately, a deep abiding relationship with Christ Himself.

This is not only a tragedy, but is perhaps the greatest culprit behind the mass exodus of ministers from the church. Several years ago, our ministry was a partial recipient of a large grant from a non-profit foundation, the Eli Lilly Endowment.  Their goal was to identify and train teenagers that felt called into ministry.  The motivation behind this initiative was to "stop the bleeding."  They had done the research and were astonished at the numbers of clergy that were walking away from ministry completely, but they were more dumbfounded at the reasons those clergy gave for their exit.

They indicated that they felt the following emotions and these were their primary reasons for throwing in the towel and calling it quits:

1. Constant anxiety from expectations placed upon them

2. Depression resulting from discouragement and strife in their marriage and their home

3. A sense of loneliness and isolation as a minister resulting in a myriad of health problems

4. Difficulty trusting anyone or opening up about weaknesses and struggles

5.  A lack of personal intimacy with Christ as a result of the work load and pressures of ministry

I can say that I categorically agree with the findings of the Lilly Endowment.  For nearly 30 years, I have listened patiently to pastors, worship leaders, evangelists, missionaries and youth ministers share their inability to continue under the pressure of their calling.  Some have made the adjustments and found a way to stay in the game.  Many, many others have simply walked away.  The lucky ones left with their health and their families still intact.  The unlucky ones waited too late to make a move.

I am curious...what are your thoughts on these 5 reasons ministers quit?  Is there a deeper issue that the church in general needs to tackle?

Learn more Clayton King.