And then there was one – my three friends who left the ministry

In 2007 God brought four of the most unlikely people together for a season.  I was 1/4 of that group of pastors.  We rode together nearly every weekend for three years to Dayton, Ohio during seminary semesters.  I cannot tell you how many times a confession or commentary from one of us began with, “Now this stays in this car”.  When we played the “stays in the car” card, were free to talk/vent in confidence about our congregations, our professors, our biases, and our struggles.  We discussed theology and life.  It was a special season of my life.  Two of us graduated with a Masters of Divinity in the spring of 2010, and the other two soon followed.

We were surprised when the twenty-something member of our group, the one who had won the preaching award in our preaching class, left the pastoral ministry soon after graduation.  Then a couple of years later, the second one of us left the ministry.  Both of them had had their fill of the ministry and the United Methodist Church. And for the last few years when I have repeated “a study I read found 50% of the people who are pastors today will not be pastors in five years”, I would back up that statistic by telling people that two of the four of us who rode to seminary together had quit the ministry.

I was unprepared for how difficult it would be when I heard from the third one of our group yesterday that he would be leaving the ministry by retiring early because of extenuating circumstances.  When he called me to tell me he said, “And then there was one”, obviously referring to the fact that I was going to be the last of our carpool group left in the pulpit.

And the truth is, I do not know how long I will be pastoring a church.  I do know this:  I will not leave the ministry because it is too difficult.  And I will not leave the ministry just because I would rather be doing something else.  I will remain in the pulpit of a church, giving all that I have, until the Spirit of God tells me I am to do something else.  Whether that is a year, five years, or twenty years is unknown by me, but is known by God.  And I have and will continue to have peace in my calling to pastoral ministry.

Everyone who knows me knows I have a heart for missions.  Diane and I are being careful to not accumulate debt, so if God calls us to leave the security of a paycheck, we will be free to go.  As it stands, God is giving me a great opportunity to impact our community and our world by leading the majority of the people of Wesley Chapel in Short Gap to care about the world outside the church walls.  To Him be the glory.

God expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. ~ Oswald Chambers

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