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One month after being fired

In no particular order, some things I’m learning, thinking about, and experiencing in the past month since being fired as a youth pastor.

1. While I knew the termination was coming long before it actually took place, I think that emotionally helped only my initial response when it actually happened. For the first week or so, my emotions were mostly a tremendous sense of relief and freedom. But then around 2 or 3 weeks that turned to sadness, disappointment, and even anger, not necessarily at the situation, but other things surrounding it. Responding to it respectfully has been a huge area of growth for me. I’m learning that it’s more important to protect God’s reputation than to try to defend mine. What God thinks matters more than what others think. It’s something we all learn in Sunday school, but can be much easier said than done as adults.

2. I think I’ve heard, “When God closes a door, He opens another one,” more in the last month than the rest of my life combined. While I appreciate the heart behind it, I’m not sure it’s Biblical. (Some Twitter followers pointed out that the saying originated with the Sound Of Music and has since turned into Christianese.) If you want to go with the analogy, maybe God shuts a door so someone can sit in a dark room alone for a while. We certainly see many examples of that in scripture.

3. It’s been helpful to be out of town a lot lately. In fact, we’ve only been home for only a couple days in December due to speaking and visiting friends and family for Christmas. Escaping the drama and the scenery has been nice, but now we’re glad to get home again today and back in our own space.

4. People say that church is like a family. Maybe that’s true for the congregants, but when you’re on staff it feels more like a dating relationship: at any time either party can choose to end the relationship. Possessions are boxed up, given back to their rightful owners, and both parties walk away wounded, pretending to move on like nothing ever happened. Weird.

5. I’m not sure where God is taking us at this point. I’ve been learning a lot about the business side of blogging to investigate whether Life In Student Ministry could start generating an income that could support my family, but it seems like the youth ministry niche is too narrow for that. Youth workers and their budgets (or lack thereof) don’t spend money the way people in other niches do. Advertising opportunities are also fewer and pay much less than other markets, so most of the “make money blogging” principles don’t really apply here. Oh well. I have picked up some short-term consulting gigs related to social media and online video marketing, though, both ministry-related and not. Interesting.

If I can do some consulting for you or your ministry, let me know! Or, if you’re interested in having me come speak to your teens or train your youth leaders, use this form to let me know!

6. Going to a different church in town the Sunday after I was fired was full of so many mixed emotions, especially for my wife. The Sunday after that was a bit easier. We’ve been out of town for 5 weekends in a row since then, but when we return and enter “church shopping mode,” that’s gonna be weird. My church shopping has always been on an employee-level.

7. I feel two very strong forces pulling me in different directions lately. My heart is pulling me to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids, but my need to provide is pushing me to figure out potential income streams and jobs. Balancing the two is hard! On one hand, I want to take this opportunity to spend a lot of time with my family, but my internal “man-drive” to provide is almost overwhelming that. Ugh.

8. My heart is in the church because it’s the bride of Christ. He died for it, so I will choose to love it and serve it even when it’s difficult. At what capacity, though, I’m not sure. I feel like I should take a break from being employed by a church in order to heal and not carry baggage with me into a new ministry, but for how long and what to do in the meantime, I don’t know. I’m not necessarily opposed to going right back into a church context, it just definitely has to be the right one (obviously). I dunno. I’m thinking through a lot about this.

9. A couple people told me I shouldn’t be afraid to just ask for money on my blog. They said they’d gladly pay for the content I provide, MinistryQuestions.com, mentoring, and other stuff. I don’t feel right doing that because I’ve been so blessed by the people who have invested into me for free, but for those of you who want to give a donation to say, “Thanks,” you can do so via PayPal here. Or contact me if you want to mail a check.

10. After talking with many churches this past month, I’m realizing that the same thing is true for this search as it was during my previous search 4 years ago: most churches have no vision. I definitely know I don’t work well in a visionless ministry, so having a strong and compelling vision that has forward movement to it is essential for me, not to mention essential for the health and life of the body!

11. My wife and I have felt tremendously blessed and encouraged by so many people through all this, it’s been amazing. We really need it. Thank you! It’s been especially encouraging when former youth group kids want to stop by to visit with us or send us notes of thanks and encouragement. Thank you so much!

Please continue to pray for us. We’re still doing our best to hear what God has next for us and how we can best serve Him and His teenagers.


Posted on December 29, 2010

  • "I’m learning that it’s more important to protect God’s reputation than to try to defend mine.". That's the sound of someone who really loves Jesus and his bride. I wish more leaders had that attitude.

    on #10: unfortunately, this is true. I actually told this (I hope graciously) to a pastor when I declined a job offer once. I said that I didn't see a clear mission and vision, and in response, he said that the youth group had gone on lots of mission trips in the past.

    Continued prayers for you and your family!

  • Thanks Tim! I was actually fired from my church yesterday and I can't begin to describe the feelings I have right now. Every emotion is going through my mind. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • tim…great post. grateful for your heart and its honesty and transparency. much wisdom here and i for one of many am grateful for your faithfulness, though its difficult, in your journey to honor Jesus. like we've said…this thing called "church" is messy.

    praying blessings and encouragement as you "chase the Wild Goose" and follow where He is leading.

    • Thanks, Tom! I appreciate all your prayers, support and wisdom through this! Appreciate you, man!

  • pastorjoe2

    Tim,

    Thanks for your post. I would like to give some insights to your #4 & #8. (#4 Church Like a Family) #8 (Taking a break from church to heal)

    It pains me to see so many Churches have that kind of relationship with their pastor/staff. I have had the awesome opportunity to serve my 16+ years of student ministry in 2 churches. Neither place treated me like a dating relationship. Yes it may be true for the congregants but it is also true for me. If the relationship is ended then it will be because God has chosen a new path (ministry) for me. My church family is loving, kind, giving, praying, supporting, trusting, believing, etc….

    I do understand about taking some time away to heal. In 2001, my then pastor had a inappropriate relationship with a 17 year old (He was 37 at the time). I was the one who caught them and called them on it. I had resigned in March, leaving last of April and then I caught them in early April. It was a tough road to travel and I do not with that road/experience on ANYONE, BUT it has changed my life for the good. I have set some pretty STRONG boundaries in my ministry. I no longer counsel females alone, give them rides home alone, I have internet accountability software on ALL my macs, my wife has EVERY password to access all my social networks and often does it on a daily basis.

    Not sure any of the above will be helpful but stay encouraged, keep the faith, surround yourself with STRONG Christians and immerse yourself in God's Word.

    Prayed for you!

    Joe

    • I'm glad you've had a different kind of relationship with your churches. I think it would be great if church/staff relationships were like a family, but as soon as money gets involved, it changes the dynamic of the relationship, just like it does in any family. As long as money is in play, I don't know how the relationship can be totally like a family.

  • Tim thanks for the update, we've been praying for you and will continue to pray for you. We hope that clarity will come as you and Dana and the family look to see what step is next for you.

    If you ever end up near the UK let us know, we'd love to use you in our church to teach leaders, but you're a little far away for my smaller budget – sorry!

    • The UK would be fun! I love listening to you guys talk. In fact, just yesterday there was a lady in the next isle over in the store talking on the phone with a thick british accent. I hung around my isle just to listen to her scold her daughter for something at home. haha

  • Beth

    Having attended and worked in churches without a vision, you're onto something. I've been thinking for awhile about how to help churches a) see the need for vision and b) help them find their vision. Might be a new consulting avenue for you.

    • Yeah, I'm pretty passionate about vision. It's so important. I personally have a difficult time functioning and serving in ministry without it. I mean, how else do you know what to do and what to work toward if you don't have anything to work toward besides some generic, "Love God, Love People, Read The World" kinda thing?

      The full article I linked in the post above lists some more things that were just as true for churches during my search 4 years ago as it is today. Kinda frustrating actually. Why aren't churches improving and growing in those areas?

  • David Teem

    I am praying for you. I can say that when I was fired from my first youth ministry gig I felt everything you are feeling. I was hurt and angry. I can tell you that the best healing has happened in the church I currently worked at. I was very careful in picking my current position. I was looking for a church that felt healthy.

    My current pastor has taught me that my previous church wasn't healthy. I was doubting myself, my calling and my ability. I thought in alternating waves that this was normal for church work or that I just wasn't cut out for the job. Being in a place where I am affirmed, trusted and appreciated has been great.

    I can't say if that will be the same for you but it helped me.

    As far as dating this is totally true. As much as I love my current church I have a feeling that when the time comes for me to leave, there will be hurt on both sides. That is the nature of the work. Also for me there was a little "hoping that she would fall apart when I am gone" going on. I don't think I will be fully healed until I can celebrate the former church's success with no feeling of resentment. I can tell you that even 3 years out I am still not there.

    • Your story is encouraging, David. Thanks! Glad you're in a healthy position now!

      I do anticipate this being a long process. How long did you wait before moving into a new ministry position?

      • David Teem

        I posted on your first post about this and I will remind you now that my situation was very similar to yours from a family perspective. My wife and I had just had our first child 2 months earlier. Also we had purchased a house only a year before (that was a $10k lesson in taking your time).

        Anyhow, we sold the house and moved. The week our job ended. We started looking around and interviewed at a ton of churches. We left our church in August. We turned down a solid but not right for us church in January and accepted our current job in February.

        I guess that means 6 months post job. But I did have a head start in that I was already looking when I got fired. My resume and website were going.

  • There's a whole pile of things I love about this post. I'll some it all up: Thanks.

  • Ana Lucia Bedicks

    Tim, It was so good to read about you and your feelings. I've been through the same thing since November 17th and I've benn praying for you because I read about you at the ITT of SYMC at FB page. I could relate to a lot of your feelings specially about attendind a different church on Sunday moorning and not wanting to connect to any other local church while we are still hurt.
    It is hard and although I am not my family provider I am a 49 years old woman and it is not a good thing for a Youth Minister in Brazil. Let's keep praying and waiting to see what God has for us.

    • Thanks for your prayers, Ana! Sounds like we can be praying for you, as well. Will you be at SYMC this March again?

      • Ana Lucia Bedicks

        Yes, I will! Will Bobbie be too?

        • I really don't know. I kinda doubt it because the church eliminated conference budgets for everyone this year. Not sure if she'd pay it herself or not.

  • foecuspastor

    RE: #7 – I say dive headlong into the desire to provide for the family. Some manual labor may even be therapeutic at this point. Take your mind off of things for a while and give you some time to pray through it all!. Just my $0.02. Hope I'm not in the "Closes a door open's a window" file of commenters ;)

    Thanks for your honesty.

    • The problem with diving headlong into providing mode is that my family then feels neglected. In my mind I think, "It's only temporary. I gotta push hard right now, but when things are in place then I can give my family more time." I could probably use that excuse for the rest of my life, though. There will always be more to do, more ways to provide. What my family needs from me through all this right now is my presence even more than my work ethic. So I'm trying to put them first.

  • This sounds like a difficult and straining situation. Please know you are prayed for. Stay blessed…john

    • Thanks for your prayers, John. They are definitely appreciated.

  • Good word. The best is yet to come. I am proud to be your friend.

  • Stephanie

    Hi my name Is Stephanie. My husband and myself have found ourselves as youth pastors recently due 2 a moral slip of the former Youth Pastor. I found your site 2day and appreciate how a community of youth and student ministries pastors can uplift each other this way. Last night before i fell asleep I said " God we dont know what we are doing but I know that You do and I am asking You for an uncommon youth group that is completely on FIRE for You! So Father turn our world upside down and show us how to turn this into a group of students that are finding themselves smack dab in the middle of revival, an awakening that changes this whole city, state, nation and world!" I am asking 4 God to do the same for those on this site. There is an AWAKENING coming to this generation of youth and I believe that miracles, signs and wonders will come with it as well!!!!! March on

    • Welcome to youth ministry, Stephanie! Sorry it's not under better circumstances, though. Sounds like you and your husband have an incredible heart for the teens! I'm sure the Lord will use you two to in amazing ways in your community.

  • Jeremy

    Take some time for you, your wife and family, but I also understand trying to find some income soon. Make a little time each day to network and find whats out there. I feel too many Pastors move onto another church too quickly and carry wounds that need to be healed, but you already mentioned this. When I stepped down from my youth position in Dallas I took some time off, we had to make some financial sacrifices, I waited tables, and am now back in the ministry full-time a year later. Don't know you personally but have been following you on your blogs for years. Love your heart for Jesus and people. God has some amazing things to teach you now. Even if you don't know the words to say during your quiet times just sit in silence and let Him love on you. I know journaling really helped during my time off and as I look back on it I see God's faithfulness through it all. Blessings brother

    • Thanks, Jeremy. Glad you're back in full-time ministry. Looking forward to that for me, too. (Although, my family is a full-time ministry, but ya know what i mean.) :)

  • Good insights Tim. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tim, Thank you for your honesty and thoughtfulness in your posts. I only "discovered" your blog a week or two before you were fired. Your blog and your insights are proving to be a huge help to me. I am just beginning my first search for a full-time youth ministry position. It's been years in the making, but I am just now realizing that the only thing holding me back is me. I've decided to just jump and let God handle the rest, as I know He will. My prayers are with you and your family as you travel this path. I hope to get a chance to learn more from you at SYMC in March as well as through your continued blog posts. Blessings, Jessica

    • Oh really? haha What a great first-impression. "I just got fired!" lol

      Glad you're going to SYMC! You're gonna love it. It'll be good to meet you, too! Be sure to find me and say HI! I'd love to hear your story.

  • Josh from Ohio

    Hey Tim,

    I can relate is some ways. I worked for supplier of promotional items for 8 years, when we were informed that the company was being sold to our biggest competitor. This meant that the 25+ employees would soon be jobless. Some begged to keep their jobs, while others took it extremely personal. I just miss doing what I loved.

    I feel that God is calling me towards Youth Ministry. My wife and I teach a 7th Grade Bible Study, which is both challenging and rewarding. I have been asked, by name, to help out with the Youth Group, but don't know if my current work schedule will allow it. Like you, I need to support my family and until the economy turns around, I am pretty stuck.

    Prayers to you and your family.

    • Thanks for your prayers, Josh! We really appreciate them. Youth ministry certainly doesn't pay much, but if you're doing what God's called you to do, the fulfillment and eternal rewards is worth it. I trust the Lord will give you clear direction and help you balance family with work and ministry.

  • Tim, these are all great thoughts… but I wanted to underscore the fact that #4 is so underrated. I hate that it has to be that way (or is that way) for churches and their staffers. I actually never wanted to work on a church staff for that very reason… yet, I felt the call to it.

    I'm praying for you & your family during all of this. As one of my student's says to me "God's got you."

    Your friend,
    //TC//

  • Stephanie

    Tim, thank you for sharing your thoughts and walk on this blog. I'm something of a new youth leader in our very small church (helping for 3 years, now directing for less than 4 months) and it's a challenging and sometimes scary experience. I deeply love our youth group and my church body, but it's challenging to know how to implement that having no formal education or experience as a leader. Your thoughts are encouraging to me because it demonstrates how loving the church is the foundation and the focus I need to have as I work with my group and find my way where God has taken me. I'm sorry I do not have advice FOR you, but I wanted to take the time to thank you for your openness, honesty, and dedication to Jesus that is an example to me.

    I will pray for you and your family – thanks again.

    • Thanks so much, Stephanie. That's really encouraging for me to hear. Sometimes you have no idea how to respond. Sometimes you REALLY want to respond in a way that ultimately isn't very God-honoring. It's hard. Glad my struggle can help you somehow!

  • Jeff

    Thanks for the words Tim. I was fired
    in Novemer and have been dealing with many of the same feelings and emotions (hurt, anger, freedom, etc). Keep your focus on Christ. I'll be praying for you and your family.

  • Dude. I feel your pain. I was fired from a church that 2 weeks after I got there the pastor took quit. Well I filled the preaching on sunday mornings for 6 months and still did student ministry full time. We were running about 175 in student ministry and about 600 in the "big church". 6 months into the whol deal the "elders" came to me and asked me if I wanted to pastor or do youth. I said shoot I'll do youth…I don't like old people. Ha ha!

  • JC Groves.

    well it happen. They went and got a dude who had never been a pastor. he was 31, (not that age matters) been in 4 youth groups in 5 years and all of those were running about 5 when he left. 3 months after he started he fired the childrens pastor 3 months later the worship leader and 8 months to the day he started THE DAY BEFORE MY FIRST KID WAS BORN last Jan 14th I was told I was fired.

    I heard last week the youth group that was running 175 is down to 12 the church that was running 650/700 is now running 50. I hate it.. But trust me God had bigger and better plans bro!

    You are so true when you say "where one door closes another one opens" for me it was about 15 doors. And 6 months ago my wife and I and our son moved from Chattanooga Tn to Salt Lake City Utah. Where we are bless to be serving in a growing, loving and amazing church. Awesome youth leaders and 2 pastors that are the real thang.

    Keep your head up. God has bigger and better plans for you dude. Psalm 27:14 JUST WAIT BABY!

    JC

    • Sounds like a crazy story for you guys! Glad you're back in ministry, serving well. Appreciate the encouragement. Thanks, JC!

  • Lilia

    I feel for you…I just lost my job as a teacher for reasons that were largely not about me, and found this blog while looking for solace. Thank you for your first two points especially. I am a Jew not a Christian (probably part of why I was let go) and I can still relate to this. Keep doing the work of your heart.

    • I'm sorry to hear that, Lilia! It's tough. Being almost 2 months out now, the sting has worn off for us, but the hurt is still there. And the, “What's next?” is still a huge question as well. I'll pray for ya today, if you don't mind.

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  • Peter Horton

    Tim,

    Any new updates? It would be great to hear how things are going for you a few months later. What are your prayer requests? What has God been teaching you? How are you and your family doing, honestly?

    • Thanks for asking, Peter. I was actually going to write a post about this last week, but decided not to because there are still so many variables and unknowns. I don't feel like I have a whole lot to share, but maybe I should just share that, huh?

  • Lynn

    Wow I am so out of the loop! I am sorry to hear about this and would love to hear where you are now. Also thanks for sharing your babies with me this weekend.

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