Volunteer / Youth Worker Development

Being Fired Wasn’t The End

Tandy Adams
June 5th, 2020

You know how it is. You date that girl or guy, you fall in love, you get married, and you suddenly realize things aren’t what you anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, I have been married almost 28 years and I love my husband, but anyone who’s married will tell you that the reality of marriage isn’t what you envisioned at the beginning.

Marriage and ministry can be the same in this way, exceeding our expectations in some areas while letting us down in others. And when we as pastors leave a church, it can feel like a divorce, especially if the leaving wasn’t our own decision. There can be hurt, confusion, pain, and doubt.

We can even begin to question our calling, our ministry, our faith, and our God.

I know because I’ve been there. I was on staff at a church with a senior pastor and community I loved. My senior pastor and I worked well together. He valued me, affirmed my calling, and he always had my back. I was hired to build a youth group, and within three years, our youth ministry grew from two to 40. Teenagers were meeting Jesus and growing in their faith!

Then my senior pastor left for a new church. As soon as that happened, the leadership decided to change their position on women in ministry and I was no longer allowed to serve as a pastor. I came to work one morning to find a letter of termination waiting for me, effective immediately.  

I was devastated.

I had never been fired from a church in 29 years of ministry. This became an identity crisis for me.

If I wasn’t a youth pastor, what was I?

If I could no longer use my gifts in the Body, did I have value?

Was it time to move on and leave behind church ministry as a vocation?

Was God done with me?

I learned three very important lessons while processing during this time:

My Identity Is Not In My Vocation, Calling, or Gifts

I have value and worth because I am a child of the God who created the universe, who redeems and restores. I could no longer allow myself to be defined by a title or role because my worth comes from Jesus.

God Sees What We Do Not

His ways are higher than ours and His plans are not our own. What if God wasn’t done with me? What if He had something better? This journey led me to leave a state and a denomination I had known my whole life. It led me to a church where I am valued and affirmed and empowered in my gifts. It led me to a place I never could have imagined.

God’s Calling Is Always Bigger Than Our Circumstances

I realized that my calling is not dependent on a church because it is given by God. He gifted and called me, so He alone gets the final word. He is faithful to finish the work He started in me. Ministry isn’t easy, but we keep pressing on because it’s not about us; this is about the Kingdom God is building and has invited us to participate in.

Here is what my termination taught me: One moment in time does not define you, and your current circumstance does not negate your worth, your value, or your calling. The Kingdom is bigger than any of us, and God is always working. Even in painful seasons, we know God is doing the biggest work inside of us, growing us in sanctification, deepening our faith, and strengthening our dependence on Him. If we settle into the tension of this holy work, we’ll have the best seat in the house: Watching God be God.

This post originally appeared on our partner site, National Network for Youth Ministries. For more information on local network among youth workers and ministry resources, check out https://www.youthworkers.net/

Tandy Adams

Tandy has been in vocational ministry for 31 years, most of those as a youth pastor. She attended Howard Payne University in Brownwood, TX and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. A lifelong Texan, she moved to Indianapolis, IN two years ago as the Director of Family Ministries at Castleton UMC. Tandy has been married 28 years and has children, Taylor (22) and Jonah (19). She enjoys playing her guitar, jalapenos, and is a die hard Chicago Cubs fan.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.