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What I Wish I'd Known Before I Quit

I can't be your pastor anymore. I'm sorry."

My tiny congregation stared back in shock. Those leaders who had already heard the news had moved beyond shock to become hurt and unhappy, but I didn't care. My sense of failure disqualified me to be their pastor. What had been an exciting personal dream just five years before was now a shredded "might have been," flapping in the lonely wind of unrealized expectations.

In 1985, I had moved to this promising new community to start a church. My father had pastored a successful church plant; I reasoned I was fit for the same kind of work.

The first setback came immediately. I had expected forty people for the inaugural worship service; only fourteen showed up. Not until I decided to leave did our church consistently average forty in attendance.

The low figure was not because of a lack of hard work. I was naive. I didn't know as much as I'd thought I did, and ministry was much harder than I had anticipated.

I'd never taken "Resignation 101" in seminary. ...

July/August
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