Today is a big day in our house. Today is the first day of school. It’s also a milestone first day of school in our house because our oldest starts middle school and our youngest starts kindergarten (the middle 2 aren’t being overlooked, they start 2nd and 4th grade).
One of the really cool things about our daughter going to Kindergarten is that she has the same teacher that each of her 3 older brothers had.
While I think this would be a cool thing for any family, it’s especially cool for me because my family moved around a good bit when I was growing up. My mom and dad were in ministry, but their administrative position with the church had a 4 year term limit. So we knew when we moved to a state that 4 years later we would be moving to a new state. It didn’t really make it easier, but at least that part was consistent. There were so many positives in my childhood, and I wouldn’t change it at all, but for the sake of this post, the moving was a negative in this one area.
While I know that military families, some ministry families, and other vocations require people to move more often than we did, I attended a different school for Kindergarten, 1st-4th grades, 5th-7th grades, 8th-11th grades, and 12th grade.
Again, our family moved because of term limitations on their job and not just randomly switching jobs, but switching jobs is pretty prevalent in our culture.
The average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.7 jobs from age 18 to age 48, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As you might imagine in the current generation where loyalty is even further down the list of priorities the numbers are even crazier.
Ninety-one percent of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers. That means they would have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives!
The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.
I get that many of these situations have legitimate reasons. Boredom in the present job. Conditions changed, so a new job was necessary. New skills or education compels us to find a place to use our new skills…
But sometimes…it just “looks greener on the other side”. Sometimes, if we’re honest, we just move to move.
Pastors aren’t exempt from this reality. While statistics are hard to find on pastoral tenure, most studies show that pastors stay 3-4 years at a church before moving on to another assignment.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that the average megachurch pastor has been at their church 13 years+. Every successful, long-term pastor I know has made some statement similar to this:
“I wanted to leave in year __ , but I stuck it out. I’m so thankful I did, because the next few years after were some of (greatest/most fruitful/most fulfilling/etc) years thus far.”
It has been said that “we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in the short-term, and underestimate what we can accomplish in the long-term.”
I’m trying to take the long-view. I’m blessed to be in a city I love, at a church I love, working with people I love and I’m looking to be here for a long time.
My grandparents on my dad’s side of the family pastored the same church for 31 years. I’m hoping to break his family record.
When times are good I file it away for later. When times are tough I remember when it was good and remind myself that there would be problems “there” too.
Obviously there are benefits to staying somewhere longterm beyond family. However, today my daughter is reaping the benefit of 10 years at the same church, living in the same town. I’m thankful for that. I pray that 12 years from now she has the same homeroom teacher her Senior year of high school that my oldest son has 6 years from now.
Pastor, be encouraged today to stick it out. Don’t look with longing to greener pastures. Keep watering the grass on your side of the fence and trust God to bless you where you’re at.