What I'm Learning: Don't Quit!

Chuck Warnock: "If you’re thinking, “Well, he doesn’t know how bad things are”—believe me, I do."

A number of years ago, I stepped into the pulpit of the church I started in Greensboro, N.C., and resigned. I was tired—exhausted—and I had nothing else to say. So I did what I had talked about doing: I quit.

Don’t quit. It’s not the solution you think it will be.

Here’s why I quit, and why you shouldn’t:

I always wondered if I could make a living doing something else. Well, I could and I did—I made a very good living. But in my darkest moments and in my best times, what I really wanted to do was pastor a church. Trust me, if you’re smart enough to be a pastor, you’re smart enough to make a living doing something else. But you will not find it satisfying, fulfilling or energizing. God’s call is powerful.

I was tired. I had started a church in an unchurched area of Guilford Country, near Greensboro. We met in the Airport Marriott Hotel for three years, grew to more than 300 in attendance, hired staff, bought property, built a 13,000-square-foot worship center and dealt with a lot of stuff along the way. Members saw my exhaustion and suggested I take three to six months off. Instead, I quit. I should have listened to the people who loved me and were trying to help me. I wanted to be Superman, but I couldn’t fill the suit. Get some rest, take some time off, go on vacation, see a counselor, but don’t quit.

I thought I could get back into the pastorate easily. I found out that minister friends of mine lost interest in our friendship when I was no longer a pastor. Prospective churches would always ask, “Why did you leave the pulpit?” Pastor search committees were not interested in someone who had quit. I spent 12 years waiting for the opportunity to get back into vocational ministry. Don’t quit.

I thought nothing I did made a difference. A few years ago I returned to the church I started for the first time since I left in 1990. One woman stood up during the service before I preached and said, “I have been praying for 14 years that you would go back into the ministry. Tonight my prayers are answered.” Others stood and spoke of how much Debbie and I had meant to them. We all cried. Someone cares what you do and has been blessed by it. Don’t quit.

I thought God had given up on me. Clearly, that was not the case. I had given up on God. Or at least, that’s how I felt. But during all those years away from the pulpit, I knew my years in ministry were my best years. Now I’m back, which is a long story in itself. I still get tired, discouraged and fed up sometimes. But I won’t quit again. Don’t quit. It’s doesn’t solve anything.

If you’re thinking, “Well, he doesn’t know how bad things are”—believe me, I do. Email me before you quit. The kingdom needs you and you are making a difference. Don’t quit.