It is a common theme in the Christian world. A man is called to the ministry in the local church and over time proves to be a man who can build a church, a man who leads or preaches in such a way that a church grows up around him. His popularity results in book contracts and opportunities to speak at conferences and at other churches. Perhaps he establishes a parachurch ministry along the way. And then, one day, still in his prime years, he gives up the pulpit to focus on writing and speaking and other interests. He leaves that local church behind and leaves pastoral ministry with it.
It happens and it happens quite regularly. Having traveled widely and having spoken at many different churches and for many different conferences, I can understand the attraction (while granting, of course, that any success or accolades I’ve experienced pale in comparison to so many other men). I can understand why and how people could give up leading the local church in favor of the speaking circuit. I began to think about this as Rob Bell announced his resignation from Mars Hill just as I set out for 6 days of speaking engagements at a conference, a college and a church.
Of course I cannot judge any other man’s motives. Unless a man chooses to reveal his reasons, I do not know why he decides to leave the pastorate to pursue writing or speaking or a combination of the two. However, though I cannot judge another person’s motives, I know that to some extent I can judge my own. And if I were to leave the pastorate to be a speaker and author, I think I know why I would do so.