Editor’s Note: The first part of this series is available here.
An obstacle that keeps us in volunteer positions longer than we should stay is that we mistakenly think our identity comes from our role rather than what the Father in Heaven says about us. If you are following Jesus, you are a loved son or daughter of God. Your title doesn’t change that. Your volunteer positions don’t change that. Therefore, it’s important to remove our identity from the role.
Too often we take unhealthy pride in what we do, so we fear that if we lose a position, we feel less valuable. Part of the Good News of the Gospel is that God doesn’t evaluate us by church leader opinions, or even what we think of ourselves. When we’re free from that fear of loss, it becomes easier to have the courage to resign from a volunteer position that isn’t a good fit anymore.
The Role Is Not The Relationship
Don’t let your resignation create isolation. If you step away from a volunteer position, I urge you to make the effort to stay connected with the church body where you’ve been serving.
In our busy lives, it’s easy to have relationships built around structures of work and serving. It takes effort to intentionally connect outside of those activities. If you’re stepping away from a volunteer position, don’t forfeit the depth and history you have in those relationships.
Proverbs 18:1 says it this way: “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.” Make the effort to preserve and strengthen the friendships you’ve built.
Praying About It
When considering all these things, the decision is rarely black and white. We have to weigh our own priorities and motivations, and we’re not always great at evaluating those clearly by ourselves.
And though it can sound trite, it’s no less true – you should really pray about it. If we’re following Jesus and surrendered to His lordship, we need to seek His direction in our life decisions. I find that prayer journaling helps me both organize my thoughts and open my heart to hearing from God.
You can also seek counsel from a trusted friend that’s removed from the situation and ask them to pray about it as well. We all have blind spots, and trusted friends can help us see clearly when things feel muddy (you can’t just cut 100 Hz from your thoughts to make it less muddy).
Sometimes it’s necessary to resign because of a toxic environment. While we bear with each others’ weaknesses in love, that’s not the same as staying around people who refuse to change toxic behavior.
Quitting is not the first step in dealing with behavior or a culture like this. We’re commanded to go directly to our brother or sister when they do something to offend us. If they don’t repent, we go with two or three others. If you haven’t gone through at least these two steps, merely resigning isn’t going to bring healing to you or the rest of the team.
We must always remember that forgiveness is imperative in our faith. The NKJV translation of I Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love suffers long and is kind.” If we put those together, that means love is being kind while suffering patiently for a long time. There are times to walk in forgiveness with another person’s weakness. There are other times to walk away from an environment that’s toxic and behavior that doesn’t change when confronted. That’s between you, the Holy Spirit, and a trusted friend to decide on.
If you’re resigning because of interpersonal issues that haven’t been resolved, I urge you to resolve those to the best of your ability (Romans 12:18). If you’ve sought to address problems that haven’t been resolved, the resignation meeting isn’t the time to bring it up. At some point, it’s time to bless them and bless yourself by walking away with a clean conscience.
Resigning With Dignity
If it’s time to have the conversation about resigning from a volunteer position, it’s better to plan a transition rather than an immediate stop. That shows dignity to those who are left in the position, and will go a long way to preserving your relationships.
The other way to maintain dignity in the resignation is to keep it impersonal. And by impersonal, I don’t mean being cold, distant or rude. I mean that your involvement in the volunteer position is about the job and its requirements, not a dislike for the people or leaders.
I recommend having the conversation at a time outside of the job responsibilities, and especially not right before a rehearsal or service. With the appropriate leader, get to the point quickly, and give a timeline for your transition. If you give some reasons why, keep them brief, simple, and impersonal.
Here’s what it might look like: “Pastor, I’m going to have to stop running sound every Sunday. I’ve loved serving here, but the time requirements are one thing keeping me from being present with my family, and they’re my first priority. I’ve planned to run sound for the next four weeks, during which time I can train someone new and get them up to speed. Thank you for the opportunity to serve here, but it’s time for me to be finished.”
Not every activity or position is for every season of life, and that definitely includes volunteering at church. Volunteer positions don’t define who we are or give us status as followers of Christ.
When we understand why we started in the first place, and why we might continue, it’s easier to evaluate whether or not we want to continue volunteering for the next season. Our faith and our families are more important in the scope of our lives than how great worship sounds on Sunday. If it’s time to leave the position, make sure you do all you can so things don’t fall apart when you leave, and that you preserve your relationships as best you can.
And since no one else has likely said it to you enough: thank you for running sound. It’s a thankless job, and we appreciate the work you do behind the scenes to make worship services distraction-free and enjoyable.
James Attaway has also joined the Church Sound Podcast as a co-host. Go here to check out recent episodes.