Leading when you want to quit (1 of 4)

Topic / Leadership

by guest blogger, Bill Allison
I was twenty-two years old and in my last year of Bible College when I got a phone call from a senior pastor telling me that the vote to hire me as a church youth pastor was 35 to 5. I liked the 35 part—but was more than a little concerned about the 5 people who voted against the idea of me taking the position. When I told the senior pastor that I was a little worried about the 5 no votes, he said, “You have less no votes than I had when I accepted the call to be the senior pastor of this church!” So, with some apprehension and assurance from my senior pastor, I accepted the position.

During the very first week I served in that church as youth pastor, each of the people who voted against my coming to the church decided to drop in and visit me. They came into my office one at a time and said the most hurtful things—doing their absolute best to discourage me. (Have you ever noticed that some people in church seem to believe that discouragement and criticism are their spiritual gifts—and that they want to use them on you?) “Students will never like you,” one snorted as I imagined little horns starting to protrude from his head. Another told me in no uncertain terms that I was “out of the will of God” for accepting the position — and was so angry that she got her tail caught in the door of my office as she stormed out. Another held her pitchfork tightly and flatly said, “You will ruin this church.” With the exception of the horns, tail, and pitchfork — everything in this story is as it happened.

In all seriousness, to this day — twenty-three years later, I can still feel the sting of their words — though the hurt is not as sharp as it was once. Let me confess that I spent a full year of Sunday mornings dealing with my bitter emotions. On the outside, I appeared to be okay. But seeing “them” every Sunday wrecked me. Multiple times while my pastor was preaching his heart out, I would silently confess to God the vindictive thoughts that plagued my mind.

It’s no fun to lead when you feel like quitting. After a quarter-century of youth ministry, I know. That’s why I want to invite you to take this journey with me — via this special series we’re launching at Life in Student Ministry. We’ll begin to unpack the art and skill of leading when you want to quit. Why? Because I’m sick and tired of seeing the best and the brightest in youth ministry not only drop out of the ministry, but out of the faith. Hopefully, by the time this series is completed, you’ll be able to apply a clear and biblical strategy for dealing with the depression, despair, and discouragement that has come to be a part of the youth pastor experience. One thing is for sure. Discouragement and his ugly cousins, Despair and Depression, will try to sink their sharp bloody teeth into your very soul and take you down for the count. What’s up for grabs is: How will you deal with discouragement when it comes? Stay tuned…


Who is Bill Allison? When he became a youth pastor, Bill Allison (center in picture below) had six keys to effective youth ministry. Now, twenty-five years later, Bill has six kids of his own and no keys. His kids are ages six to sixteen, including two in junior high and two in high school, so pray for him. Some of Bill’s lifetime goals are to drive in a smash-up derby, ride a Harley on Route 66 from Chicago to LA, and chase a tornado. He’s madly in love with his wife, Stacy, and dates her every week, even after 20 years of marriage. When Bill is not dating his wife or doing life with his kids (and their friends), he is the Executive Director for Cadre Ministries, a faith-based missionary team (with almost 100 years of combined youth ministry experience) who pour their lives out to help churches equip students and volunteers to do ministry in Ephesians 4:11-12 fashion. Cadre has trained and certified many youth pastors to take training back to their students and volunteers. For information on becoming a certified trainer, or to bring Cadre training to your ministry, contact By the way, even as an old guy, Bill continues to serve as a volunteer in the high school youth ministry of his church and wants to spend the rest of his life training, coaching, and mentoring the next generation of volunteer and vocational youth workers.

Posted on January 15, 2008

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