I haven't shared what I'm about to type with very many people before now. It's been brewing in my heart and mind for a while, and at this late hour it's starting to consume me. I need an outlet, a time to vent, a place to share, and now that things are officially moving forward, I feel more free to discuss it.
I'm quitting the ministry.
It was strange to type those words. It's strange to read them.
I was convinced for so long that this was my life's vocation, what God was calling me to do. Through four years of college and three years of seminary I was convinced that this was my path. But then I actually started doing it. It's a different matter from the dream to the reality. A disappointing reality. A disheartening reality.
I thought I'd be engrossing people in theology and the Bible. They want to believe what they've always believed. No one wants to think. They want to be told what to think.
I thought I'd be leading people to interact with their communities, to work alongside those who need help, to establish connections in the mission field. Turnouts for these events have been absolutely pathetic. People would rather spend their Saturdays at the mall.
I thought I'd be able to provide a stirring message to the masses every single Sunday. Most weeks I barely scrape by.
I thought I'd help make a difference for the kingdom of God. I can't do that unless others are willing to be different, to give new ideas a chance.
I've prayed about this long and hard. I've anguished in secret, behind closed doors. I can't put into words how sick this makes me, how sick I've felt for quite a long time now. But this is the right thing to do. While it doesn't feel as if a burden has lifted yet, I know that in the long run I will feel more free and more alive than I have over the past 14 months. My family and friends with whom I've wept and on whom I've depended throughout this process have been understanding. My wife, who is in the middle of nursing school, is less than thrilled because it puts her education and career in question. I'll need prayers from a lot of people for a long time while we figure this out.
In the meantime, I discussed this with my church's executive council and will be drafting a letter to present to our Consistory this coming month.
As it currently stands, the plan is for my final day to be July 1st, three months from today...
...which is April 1st.