How to Know When to Leave - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

How to Know When to Leave

Youth pastors: Here are three signs that show it’s time to transition to a different opportunity.



Roots are good. I would love to put down roots in an area and know that’s where my family and I would stay—that my kids wouldn’t have to worry about leaving their friends behind and that I wouldn’t have to pack up everything I own and start over in a new ministry.

But, as Father Abraham could attest, a settled life isn’t always what God calls us to. As pastors and ministry leaders, most of us will experience seasons where God is directing us to new areas and positions.

While it isn’t easy to reestablish our lives, we’re called by God for the mission He’s given us and to go where He leads us. I’ve noticed three signs that show it’s time to consider a transition.

1. The church leadership doesn’t support your vision.

God has put on our hearts the mission He wants us to lead our ministries with. Usually, the church has a desire for that vision when they call you to serve, but occasionally the church begins walking away from that vision.

Since my first Dare 2 Share conference in 2015, I’ve been convicted that the greatest ministry mission is to share the Gospel with the lost and invite them to come to Christ to receive the free gift of salvation. In that way, we will see new believers join the Church and join the mission, and we will be fulfilling the cause of Christ.

In my last ministry, students were fully committed to this vision. Even during the pandemic, our group was growing with new members, and we saw students putting their faith in Jesus and then inviting more friends. And the church was excited and applauded us along the way.

Then we had a change in leadership. After a season of struggle, our church had lost several key members.

I clung to the vision. If we could reach our town and see lives transformed by the Gospel, God would take care of the rest. Unfortunately, the new leadership didn’t agree. At one point I was told, “Sharing the Gospel would only be a very small part of what the church needed to do to fix the issues. It wouldn’t achieve anything.”

The church was clearly no longer supporting the vision I had and which it had brought me in to fulfill.

2. The feeling of holy discontent is growing.

The lack of support for the vision I had for the group created in me a major feeling of holy discontent. I prayed for quite a while for the ministry to get back on track. I wanted to see my ministry advance the Gospel in our town. But the feeling of holy discontent was another sign that it was time to go.

I’m not saying you should start looking for a new job every time you feel discontented. Sometimes you need to pray it out and stick it out. But don’t ignore that feeling of discontent. Instead, ask God what He wants from you.

Maybe that feeling just means it’s time to make a change, starting with you. Or maybe it’s the sign that your time is coming to an end in your current location. But pray over it and see where God is leading.

In my case, from the point the new leadership arrived, I waited a year with that feeling of discontent. I was praying that God would stir things up again and the church would get back on track. I prayed that the new pastor would embrace the immense vision of reaching our community with the Gospel. While I couldn’t change the course of the church as a whole, I made sure I kept steering my student ministry in the right direction.

Even while feeling holy discontent, make sure you’re still seeking the vision God has given you with all that you have. Even when others aren’t following the vision, you keep going until God tells you to stop. He is the One who has given you the vision, so follow His directions in that ministry.

3. New doors are opening.

After a year of wrestling with the feeling of holy discontent, I concluded that God was getting ready to move me. It was time to start looking for that new opportunity. I wish I could say it was easy, but it was another year before God showed me where we were going next.

I had also made up in my own mind that I would stay in youth ministry because that’s where God had me start. I believed He wouldn’t call me to youth ministry unless it was what He wanted me to do for the rest of my life. Plus, hearing about lead pastors who used youth ministry as a stepping stone never sat well with me.

For months I sent out resumes and had conversations with lead pastors who told me they’d hoped for a youth pastor like me. I would even hear comments like “Why aren’t you a missions pastor?” or “You preach like a lead pastor.” But none of the amazing opportunities to stay in youth ministry worked out.

Instead, I was contacted by a church that wanted me as their lead pastor. They were looking for someone who would care for the congregation, lead them in an evangelistic vision, and reach the community with the church.

They were convinced I was their new lead pastor. I asked several times if they really were sure of it. They kept saying I was the leader they were looking for—and much to my surprise, God eventually led me to accept the call to that position.

God will open doors when it’s time to transition. Those doors might be to another student ministry position. They might be to something completely different. But He will guide you when He’s ready for you to move. We just need to be willing to follow Him.

God has put you in the ministry you serve for a reason and for a season. Watch for the signs that it’s time to move, pray as you discern His good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:2) in your life, and follow God when and where He leads.

related articles

free youth ministry resources

Free youth ministry curriculum, books, evangelism training, ebooks, videos, and more! Download your free resources now and grow your youth ministry.

Start building a Gospel Advancing ministry.

Join a community of leaders with the vision to see every teen, everywhere, hear the Gospel from a friend.