Why Pastors and Ministry Leaders Have Difficulty Retiring

Mom and Dad

When I read a story on how difficult it is for writers, artists, and rock stars to retire, (May 20th in the U.K.’s Telegraph) by Critic Neil McCormick, I immediately thought of pastors and ministry leaders. Granted, they’re not famous writers or rock stars (at least most of them) but generally speaking, they don’t lead normal working lives. While they work very hard, they don’t have typical 8 to 5 jobs, don’t slave at a desk, can determine their own schedule, can be intensively creative, and are passionate about their work – I know, because my dad in the photo was a pastor, and even after a stroke, only stepped down after he fell in the pulpit.  They love the job – which makes retirement quite difficult. Pastors and leaders – don’t be offended, but 

Pope Benedict’s Retirement: Are Church and Nonprofit Leaders Watching?


I was so impressed by the retirement announcement from Pope Benedict, that for a minute or two, I almost became a Catholic. His courage in facing the reality of declining health, potentially poor decision making, and the toll on his psyche was admirable. In spite of the pressure (no Pope has retired in 600 years) he had the integrity to make the right decision. Now contrast that with many pastors, ministry, and nonprofit leaders. With media ministries, they stay on the air way past their ability to not embarrass themselves. They fumble around, say inappropriate things, and generally make the Church look foolish to the world. Long time pastors aren’t much different. They

Why Some Pioneering Christian Media Ministries Survived


So in the wake of my last post on why so many pioneering Christian media ministries collapsed, why did some others survive? What did they have that others didn’t? Did God just bless them more, or are there identifiable traits that we could focus on and learn for the future. I think the latter’s true, and here’s a few thoughts why some pioneering media ministries have not just survived, but thrived:

When Legends Leave


The death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has made me think more and more about how organizations transition from strong, charismatic leaders.  Looking at how companies transitioned from men like Walt Disney, Sam Walton, Bill Gates, and now Steve Jobs has many implications for nonprofit and ministry organizations as well.  Right now, the Christian community is experiencing a huge period of transitions from founders of extraordinarily large ministries.  Men like Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, and Oral Roberts have passed away, and others like Robert Schuller, Pat Robertson, Paul Crouch Sr, James Dobson, Billy Graham and many others are either retiring or in semi-retirement.   So far, the scorecard on how many of these organizations are doing isn’t very good.  Rakesh Khurana, professor at Harvard Business School has said: “The difference between a cult and a religion is that

The Generational Transition We Face with Major Churches and Ministries


I believe Christian media is facing the greatest generational transition in the history of our culture. The first generation pioneers like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, Robert Schuller, Pat Robertson, Paul Crouch, and others, have either passed away, retired, or aren’t as intensely involved in their ministries as they used to be. The implications of this transition are more critical that many might believe. For instance:

Leaving a Legacy

One thing we also need to discuss when it comes to the transition to the next generation is legacy issues. How should the founder be remembered? The Billy Graham organization is asking some of these questions as they opened their library and museum yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ve also found that legacy projects are a way to keep the first generation leader occupied while the second generation leader tries to make his way and launch his own effort in ministry.

Before we get to that, let me say