Pastors, When Do You Move On?

I’ve watched people in organizations – in government, business, nonprofits, and, sadly, far too often in the church — some leaders (people) simply stay too long. Leader, leave before you have to leave. 

Does that sound cruel for me to say? I certainly don’t mean it to. Yet, some leaders simply stay beyond their welcome. Beyond their usefulness. And beyond their ability to make an impact and leave a positive legacy.

At the same time, I’ve known some people – and some strong leaders – that left when thing were going really well. They could have stayed longer, but they wanted to transition out during a good season. That always seems to work better, in my observation.

So, I have some advice.

Leave before you have to leave.

  • When you are tired of attempting to attain the vision – or have a competing vision
  • If you can’t support the senior leadership – publicly or privately 
  • When you have no heart left to give the organization – and that’s okay to admit 
  • If you consistently struggle to stay motivated – if coming to “work” is a chore – everyday

Certainly, when you feel God is freeing you to move elsewhere.

Don’t be forced out because you’re too stubborn, scared, or have a false sense of loyalty. You’ll do more harm to your reputation, your attitude and the organization during the miserable days.

And it may be you need a rest – a sabbatical – some extended time away, but the point of this post is to encourage you to do the right thing – for you and the organization. Never stay for a paycheck, or a false sense of loyalty, or because you’re afraid to walk again by faith.

Leave before you have to.

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This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. He revitalized two churches and planted two more.