Life As Of Late

In the middle of October I met with our church board and told them I was resigning. They did their part trying to convince me to stay, and I appreciate that, but I was also quite clear with them that I couldn’t do it anymore. When I was done talking, they agreed.

Being a pastor takes a toll on a guy, or it at least took a toll on me. There’s a constant wear, emotional and mental mainly, that got to me.

First, there is the burden of giving an account for the souls entrusted to my care. This burden weighed on me massively. I took my job very seriously. Maybe too serious to the point of paralyzing myself with uncertainty about what to do or say. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it any other way.

Second, not only is there a burden on me to do what I can to help, whenever any of the souls I give an account for “mess up,” I feel it is my fault to some degree. Again, many have told me I’m wrong in this and not to do it, but I couldn’t figure out how. Every failing of every person under my care got to me. Perhaps this is my own arrogance, I don’t know, I just know I couldn’t make it stop.

Third, I took so many shots as a pastor. So many people have taken time out of their busy schedules to inform me how terrible I was and how I messed them up. Everyone and their mother had an issue with me at some point. This isn’t actually true, but it felt like it. Again, maybe this is my own arrogance rearing its head. I’m not saying I was right in feeling these things, I’m just saying this is how it felt. I was a pretty insecure guy to begin with, having grown up legally blind and being picked on, the church didn’t do anything to help this insecurity. It felt like junior high all over again (this isn’t unique to the church. I’m painfully aware that the entire world is junior high).

Fourth, yes there were faithful people and I have true friends and there were some who grew in Christ, but it doesn’t really outweigh the pain and the burden. It just doesn’t. Again, people told me it should and that I’m doing it wrong. Great. Fantastic. Can’t help it though. That’s how I’m wired. I couldn’t figure out how to do it differently.

Fifth, I tend to be annoying with my preaching and approach to scripture. By annoying I mean, I like to poke around in stuff that people don’t want me to poke around in. I take what everyone says and examine it, and usually prove that most people have no idea what they are talking about, they’re just repeating stuff. I did this because I had no idea what I was talking about and was just repeating what I heard. I didn’t want to do that anymore, so I started digging around. People didn’t like this. It also fed some Us vs. Them attitudes. I tried to do it better, I tried not to get annoyed and tone it down, but I couldn’t find the button to push to make this happen.

At the end of the day, the problem wasn’t with the church or any person or persons; it was with me. I couldn’t figure out how to do the job without feeling absolutely terrible all the time. There came a point I didn’t want to preach anymore. I was just done.

I’d sit in my office on Saturday night with complete depression sinking in. Sunday morning was just dread and fear. I was not good. I had to stop.

My whole life I’ve been in a pastor’s family. The church takes on a personality in the pastor’s family; it’s like another family member. A burdensome family member who’s always finding fault and is impossible to think of what to get them for Christmas. I’m done with that. I can’t do it anymore. It was feeding things in me and I didn’t want to blow my testimony.

I resigned publicly on November 1. That same day I went to Illinois to see my mom who was having troubles with her cancer treatments. Two days later she was in the hospital. A week later she was home on hospice. A week after that she died. I spent all of November in Illinois.

Needless to say, my brain was pretty shot for quite some time. It started working again on December 16. I know this because I have a voice recording app on my phone where I say stuff I want to remember when my brain works. There is nothing on it until December 16.

I do not want to be a pastor. I have determined that I can’t be The Guy in a church. I don’t think I’m gifted or equipped to do that correctly. I am gifted enough to be one of the guys, but not The Guy. I did my best. I tried. I gave it what I had to give. It’s not something I can continue doing.

I still get ideas and believe I have some insights others may find helpful, I hope this is the case anyway. I am thinking of ways to share these ideas in the future. It won’t be anything big or spectacular, just some hopefully edifying syllables from time to time.

I’m also looking forward to being involved in a church from a non-pastoral perspective. I am looking forward to not having to put up with pastoral awkwardness and judgmentalism that is so habitually heaped upon pastors. I have completely enjoyed every Sunday so far not being a pastor. I look forward to many more to come.

I’m aware that the pastoral role stifled my true nature to an extent! Knowing I represented a group of people kept me in check from saying and doing many things, not sinful things all the time either, just my natural responses.

I no longer represent a group! I represent me before God. Again, no doubt that’s how I should have been before, I know, I know, but I was never able to do so. Much of this was ingrained in me when I was growing up in a pastor’s family with my parents’ attitudes about church and pastoral ministry. It was depressing and fearful. It did a number on me. I feel the weight even as I write this, “Should I say this? Who is going to leave the church when they read this? Don’t be you; they won’t like you. You’re not good enough. Someone will get mad.” Shush!

I don’t know what this non-pastoral life will look like, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a learning curve! I apologize in advance.

I am looking forward to being done with being affiliated with pastoring. Not a pastor’s kid anymore, and now also not a pastor. I imagine this will be cool. I will miss aspects of the job, but all in all, I’m going to enjoy being free!

Thanks for caring enough to read this. I’d appreciate your prayer. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “Life As Of Late”

  1. Jeff–I am so very sad to hear this. I probably should not even comment until I have time to process it. But I have to tell you that Ron & I do love you and your family dearly in Christ. I am sorry that I have not been faithful in praying for you more regularly. This is a wake-up call to me on that. Please keep us posted. Your ministry has truly changed our Christian walk and our lives so much for the better. I seriously do not know where I would be as a believer without your teaching and encouragement. I am saddened that you have to be going through this valley, but I know Jesus is right there with you and He will surely guide you. –Heather F.

  2. Hi Jeff – Many years ago I discovered your blog “by chance” and have always found it very beneficial. I have also listened to some of your sermons too and again found them beneficial. I pray that God will guide you and be with you. God bless Richard

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