It's one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make: Leaving a church you have been serving as a staff member. It's a decision that should NEVER be made cavalierly and never without much prayer and consideration.
I have seen many staff members leave too early and short circuit what God was wanting to do in them during a process of seasoning and learning. But, I have also seen many staff members stay longer in a situation than they should have. By doing so, they ended up hurting the church and their family in the process.
Certainly, you should leave if you have a DIRECT command from God that it is time for you to move on. Perhaps He has another place where He wants to use you. Perhaps He has someone else who needs to fill your current position in order to fulfill His plan for that church. If God says, "Leave," then leave. Outside of a direct command from God, here are a few ways you can know it might be time to resign the position you are serving in...
1) When you no longer personally respect your pastor or team.
Whether it is your fault or theirs, if you have lost respect and cannot gain it back - you will do more harm than good by staying on the team.
2) When you can’t support and agree with them publicly
We will always have disagreements with our pastor or other staff. It's impossible to agree on everything. But, we should always disagree in private! When in a public setting, you MUST show agreement and solidarity. If you are unable to do so despite your best prayer and effort, then you need to leave before you cause damage to the body of Christ.
3) When you or your spouse become cynical or critical in your spirit
If you get to the point where you are cynical in your spirit and can't seem to clear it out, then you should leave. To continue to follow someone you don't trust is damaging to them and to you.
4) When you are no longer challenged to grow
When you get to the point where you have grown as far as you can at the current location, it might be time to consider moving on.
5) When you don’t like being around your pastor or team
This doesn't mean one person or another gets on your nerves one day. However, if you find yourself consistently avoiding relational time with your staff or pastor, that is unhealthy. If prayer and loving confrontation don't solve it, then it is better to leave than poison the entire community.
6) When you think you can do a better job than your pastor
Some staff pastors have the thought, "If I was in charge of this church, I would do a much better job than my pastor is doing." I have found that when a staff member has this feeling, MOST of the time it is the staff member's fault - not the pastor's. However, if this feeling persists despite your best efforts to squelch it, then you can mark it down - you have lost all respect for your pastor. No matter what the reason, you owe it to your pastor to resign and allow him to hire someone who respects him.
I am not one who advocates leaving on a whim. I can't stand the fact that the studies show the average length of stay for a church staff member is 18-24 months. However, there are times that "sticking it out" can do more harm than good. No matter what, never make the decision without bathing it in prayer and seeking wisdom from spiritual authority.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Share your thoughts in the comment section.