I've heard from yet another preacher who is getting out. For the sake of his family.
Since the early days recorded in scripture, people of God have often sacrificed their families to do their work, such as the priests Aaron, Eli, and Samuel. It is speculated that the apostle Paul lost his family when he became a Christian missionary (although there might have been other issues there).
I know of a half dozen other ministers who are leaving or have left because of concerns of family or for health reasons--both emotional and physical. I know one very intelligent person who has to leave because he just doesn't feel like he's good enough. But in fact, he is. In fact, all these people I'm thinking of are better than average at their jobs. They are gentle, creative, hardworking, and idealistic.
There are plenty of lousy ministers out there who ought to find some other jobs, but these losses are going to hurt the Church and we're not going to easily replace them. Plus, although I think they deserve to be happy, I suspect they're not going to be able to find peace outside of the ministry.
Many people create a scandal in their lives that make it impossible to stay or even re-enter the ministry. Are they wolves in sheep's clothing or are they wounded healers that just couldn't see straight enough in the end to say, "I want out."?
But these recent departures are not leaving a wake of injured souls. They are the injured souls. They're trying to find healing for themselves and the people they love the most after having their most of their vitality sapped.
Why have I remained in the ministry? I've tried to leave but never for very long. I have been ambivalent about the ministry ever since I entered as a young man. I wanted to be a good pastor, but at the same time, I've always wished I could do something else.
I can relate to Jacob, who spent an entire night wrestling with an angel of God, refusing to quit until God blessed him. He came from the fight exhausted and crippled but he got his blessing, I guess. And his name was changed to Israel, which means contender with God. Oh, how I relate!
Why must it be so hard? Why, as we mature, does God seem to try to disappear, even as we wrestle to hold onto him? And why does his church sap and break the very best of his servants?
The sun has not yet appeared for this day but when it does, the wrestling will not cease like it did for Jacob. The wrestling and the night continues.