Yesterday I was at Lubbock Christian University interviewing interns. It was a great day, lots of really good interviews. I enjoyed seeing a couple of old friends, as well as making some new ones.
One of my friends who’s been in ministry for about 2 years now ask, “how have you stayed at the same church so long. There are lots of reasons I have stayed as long as I have. Part of it is I have an amazing wife who has been there for me in the difficult times and who has never let me quit just because things got difficult. Also I am at an incredible church with incredible, Godly shepherds and a great staff. Those are the two biggest reasons.
However, there is a really important life lesson which I would say has kept us here in Cleburne. In June I will begin my 10th year as youth minister at Westhill. Now, you might think it is not that long and in the grand scheme of things it’s not. Many of you have heard the average youth minister is only with a church 18 months, well that is not true. You will not find stats to back up that claim, but Group magazine did do a study and found the average youth minister would stay at one church for 3.9 years.
One thing I have found the longer I have been in ministry and the longer I have been in one place, the more and more I have heard the question, would you consider coming to _________ church. Over the past 9 years I have heard this question probably a dozen times from really appealing churches.
Here is the reason I have said no for the past 9 years, it is something my mother taught me, but it never really made sense until I started getting these questions. She would always tell me, “Gary, the grass is always greener on the others side of the fence.” I know you have heard the phrase before but it is so true, especially in ministry.
When a committee is trying to lure someone away from their current position they are trying to sell themselves. To be honest they have a tendency to make the church they are selling look spectacular. News flash, every church is made up of people and people are imperfect. As long as you are dealing with imperfect people there will always be problems.
Ultimately, we end up comparing what we don’t know about the other church with what we do know about our church. I would say the reason I have chosen to stay is because I know, no matter how incredible the opportunity is, there are people at that church and there will be problems at that church as well. From the outside any job looks like all glitz and glamour, it is not. Sorry to break the news to you.
The purpose of this article is not to say to ministers, never leave where you are, or business professionals do not change jobs. The purpose is to say do not leave where you are just because there are problems where you are. Wherever you go there will be problems waiting for you as well. The grass is NOT always greener on the other side. The truth is many times it is pretty green where we are, we are just blinded by the delusion of a perfect world on the other side of the fence.
Later I will write about the benefits I have found in being with the same church for so long.