Second-Guessing My Call

I'm forty-five years old, and associate pastor of a mid-sized church. I've been in professional full-time ministry for twenty years.

I'm deep in debt and going deeper--my wife and daughter have expensive health issues, and my salary is low compared to the cost of living around here anyway. God has always been faithful to provide, but my outgo exceeds my income and that can't continue indefinitely.

Things at the church aren't bad, but attendance and giving are down, and, while nobody's blaming me to my face, there is subtext that if I was doing my job better then we'd be in better shape. I've been here five years, and raises have been low or nonexistent, and, unless the financial picture turns around, they'll have to phase my position out. I've never been in a church that has paid me what they could if they chose to--even this church could have done better than it has, until just recently.

I'm smart, experienced, capable, well-educated, and hard-working, but I'm tired of working a high-expectation job just to make much less money than most of my church members. Nothing I've tried in my current church has made a difference, and casting the net towards other ministry opportunities hasn't panned out. I'm envious of younger ministers who are in larger and better paying ministry positions than I am.

I'm probably in a mid-life crisis, feeling like a middle-aged failure--three kids, one in college, no savings, not much in the retirement account, a whopping debt load, and a dead-end job.

I'm just tired. I want to get out of the ministry, but I don't know what I'd do that would help my finances--my skills and education are specialized towards church work, and retraining or entry-level work would take a long time before they'd turn things around. Plus, as I've said, God has never failed to provide for my daily needs, and I don't dare let HIM down, any more than I do on a daily basis. If He would have me stay, then somehow, someway, there's a way forward. I just need to find it.

Thanks for letting me whine. God bless, friends.

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