I think most of us would have to admit that last year was in some ways a disappointing one. I certainly do not mean to be a discouragement with this article, and I am not discouraged as I write it. In fact, in many ways I think we are living and ministering in one of the greatest periods of Church history. Needs are greater than ever before, and a need always precedes a miracle, therefore this is a great time to be in the ministry. My purpose is not to discourage, but to be a realist. Many churches are experiencing an increase in attendance that corresponds with a dramatic decrease in offerings! Many of us have been forced to make cuts that were emotionally difficult to do, such as laying off staff.
At times like this, the enemy loves to place discouraging thoughts in our minds that include considering resigning our position as pastor. In my personal devotions I have been greatly encouraged by the Holy Spirit that this is not the time to back up in any sense of the word. This is not the time to resign, but the time to Re-Sign! We need to re-sign our lives on the dotted line remembering Who it is that called us and Who it is we serve. Colossians 3:24 tells us we, "Serve the Lord Christ."
If you are looking back at a discouraging year and feeling that perhaps you should resign your Church, please consider this first:
1. Consider your responsibility.
Second Timothy 2:2, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." We have been given the great privilege of winning souls, baptizing converts and then training them to serve our Lord as well! Before you stop doing that in your current location, stop and consider that the Lord of the harvest has placed you and commissioned you to do this great work. I do not find any place that says we are to only fulfill our responsibility when we see a certain numerical increase, or the offerings are coming in strong. I simply see that we are to love people, try and get them saved, and then teach them to follow our Saviour. The truth is that there are people in your city that need you to stay where you are, and stay faithful. What if you had resigned and left in January a year ago? Who would not have been saved in your city that was reached last year? What family would not have been helped? Pastor we have a responsibility to our Lord, our people, our family, and ourselves to not shirk our responsibility. Before you resign your church and leave, consider your responsibility and ask God to help you stay focused on fulfilling your calling.
2. Consider your resource.
Second Timothy 2:1, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." The ministry has never been easy, and that is especially true in the past year. Some of our people have lost their jobs and many others are fearful. Fear and faith cannot control the same heart at the same time. If we are not careful, we can be controlled by fear rather than faith, and that is a recipe for disaster. How can we overcome our fear? We need the same thing the apostle Paul encouraged pastor Timothy with, grace! Our resource is not our winsome personality, or a government bailout. Our resource is always the grace of God. Make a determination to face the new year yielded to the Holy Spirit, walking and growing in the grace of God. One of the blessings of the recent recession is that we have an opportunity to learn to do ministry empowered by God's grace instead of looking to the large givers. My prayer is that I will learn to do ministry and my whole life based upon the wonderful grace of my Lord. And dear brother, what I pray for myself, I also pray for you! Before you resign your church and leave, why not get down on your knees and plead with God to let you stay another year and learn to walk and operate more by His grace than ever before?
3. Consider your reward.
Second Timothy 2:5-6, "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits." Many of us have just come through a discouraging year, and when that happens it is easy to forget that our reward is yet future. We are not laboring for men's applause or visible results. We are laboring for our Master and our greatest reward will be to hear Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant." His smile will make it all worthwhile. Before you resign your church and leave ask the Lord to help you take your eyes off the circumstances and place them on His wonderful face. That being said, we also realize that there are times when our Lord moves His servants. It is not always a mistake to resign a church. It is always a mistake to quit, but it is never a mistake to follow God's leading. There may come a time when it is time to resign under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, but before you resign your church, consider these things!
Second Timothy 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.