The following blog is from Adam Shanks. Adam is a gospel preacher. I came across this post on Facebook. Thank you Adam for talking about a difficult subject.
Why do men leave preaching? Let me count the ways.
Personally, I’ve tried multiple times. I’ve been tempted more times than that. Nearly every preacher I know has wanted to at some point or another. They’ve wrestled with their will versus God’s will. They’ve justified every reason why they should move on. They’ve argued with the mirror, tears falling to the floor, fists shaking at themselves. They’ve screamed in their cars when no one is watching and screamed inside where no one can hear. They’ve felt hot with betrayal. They’ve squelched anger, again, even though every human instinct in them has cried for justice against the other person. They’ve fought through discouragement and plastered smiles on their faces so they could stand on the pulpit again pretending that everything is perfect. They’ve left cryptic hints in their sermons that everyone has ignored. Everyone ignores their wife too, who is as broken as he is while she sits in that pew with a painted smile on her face too. Why does this happen? Why do good men, godly men, hard working men, continue to jump ship and run?
I could give you stories of conflict where the stupid is heeded and the preacher discarded.
I could extol examples of elders who have manipulated, twisted, and disrespected preachers, for no other apparent reason than they could get away with it.
I could provide lists of preachers who have indebted themselves financially to stay in places where they were needed, only to then find out that they weren’t needed as soon as they couldn’t be afforded.
I could furnish facts and figures to show preachers who are paid pennies to give everything they have for the least amount possible in repayment.
I could impart dozens of instances where the logical answers from Scripture were put aside in favor of the opinions (whether they made sense or not) that allowed elders to “keep the peace” a little longer.
I could lay out a pattern of disregarded, disrespected, and discarded men, who were left hanging with a family in tow, with a feeling that they don’t belong anywhere.
The truth about preaching is a little stated truth. No one wants to say it. No one knows how to say it. I’m not sure I do. But there is a fundamental problem with preaching, and the problem is not only with elders, congregations, or conflicts. The problem is not even how much or how little they are paid. The problem is deeper than that. It’s with preaching itself.
Preaching, at it’s core, is emasculating. It’s partly because of how God designed it and partly because of what culture has taught our men to expect out of life. Preaching’s not made to make men famous. It’s not made to make men rich. It’s not made to make men successful, in worldly terms at least. Any man who is seeking those things, which are honestly the very things the world tells us to seek, will find themselves dissatisfied with preaching. Preaching, because of what it is, stinks from the view of traditional manhood. It’s a life of service, a life of serving, a life of putting yourself below others, a life of seeing problems you can do nothing about, a life of working hard only to receive no credit for the work, or a life of working hard seeing no return for the work because God has decided not to give the increase. It carries no accolades, no promotions, no success stories. Even when success stories exist, they are easily discarded with giving credit to God (where it really belongs). It’s a hard job because there’s no manly pursuit and victory.
God made men to conquer. What do preachers conquer? God made men to achieve. What do preachers achieve?
So, when conflicts arise, how does a preacher fight back? It’s not his battle. It’s not his church. It’s not his place.
When a man needs more to live on, does he leave a church behind in search of more money, or does he risk asking for more money and being accused of doing the job for “filthy lucre?”
When you’re discarded like you don’t matter, what does a preacher do? Ultimately, a good preacher realizes that he doesn’t matter. He’s only there to do more for God, bring attention to God, and help people see that only God matters. He actually is dispensable if he’s doing the job right. And that makes doing the job right even harder.
Why do men leave preaching? I could count the ways, but I’d rather not. It doesn’t do preachers well to focus on the reasons to leave. It’s better to focus on the reasons it’s good to stay. To keep their eyes on the Jesus they love. To keep their mind trained on the gospel. Then, despite the conflict, the betrayals, and the hard days, they can remember why they do this in the first place. One more day to talk about their Savior: the true man, the true conqueror, and the Master preacher. Why do men leave preaching? I get it. Maybe you do too. May God give them strength to hold on to Him when there’s no one else.
“A person’s steps are established by the Lord,
and he takes pleasure in his way.
Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed,
because the Lord supports him with his hand.
I have been young and now I am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned
or his children begging for bread” (Psalm 37.24-26).