by Carey Nieuwhof

So you’re frustrated in your job, ministry or organization.

In a previous post, I argued that many people leave their jobs for the wrong reasons. In fact, I think many people leave before their critical breakthrough.

And I strongly believe that people who don’t persevere never break through the wall that most limits their personal growth: themselves. Staying somewhere for five years or longer forces you to change the only thing left to change after a while: you.

So I believe there’s tremendous benefit both personally and organizationally in long term tenure.

And please know I write this from a place of bias. I’ve been working with the same core group in the same community for almost 18 years. I think long term tenure has real benefits.

In response to a previous post, Rob asked a great question. does that mean you should never leave? Is this an argument for staying 40 years in one place to get the gold watch at the end?

Not necessarily.

Before I get to my list of five signs it’s time to move on, I know you’ll notice “God told me to move on” is not on the list. Here’s why.  I’ve heard that term misused more than I’ve heard it well used. Often I think people use God language to hide their own emotional issues.

I do believe we occasionally hear from God on these things (I believe I have). But God would never say anything that contradicts scripture. And usually God’s voice is echoed in the wisdom of at least a few people around you. I realize sometimes this isn’t true, but most often it is.

If you’re the only one who ever hears from God, maybe it isn’t God you’re hearing from.

So here’s my list of 5 signs it’s time to move on:

1. Your spouse is telling you it’s time to go. For those of us who are married, there will be seasons in which you and your spouse might disagree about whether it’s time to start a new assignment. But long term, a house divided against itself cannot stand, especially in ministry. Plus, when it comes to my life, I trust my wife’s voice even a little more than I trust my own. So, if after a season or two, if your spouse is telling you it’s time to go, it becomes unwise to ignore that.

2. Your circle of wise counsel is telling you to move on. Every person should have a circle of wise counsel around them. For every leader, it’s more than advisable, it’s essential. I have a circle of friends, mentors and colleagues I trust to speak the truth to me. They often see things I’m blind to. If they’re telling you to go, listen.

3. You have lost the confidence of the leadership. If your staff team, elder board or other leaders around you have lost confidence in you for more than a season, it’s time to go. It means your influence as a leader is gone, and without the ability to influence, you can’t lead.

4.  Your passion is gone. You can lead without passion for a season (I have had to on several occasions), but long term you can’t.  Please note: the lack of passion may have little to do with your job. More than a few people have switched jobs only to discover the lack of passion is a personal issue, not a case of being in the wrong job. You might need to stick where you are and work through the tough issues.  Or you might need to go see a counselor (I’ve done that). It helps. But if you’ve carefully examined your personal growth and issues and still don’t have passion at work, it could be a sign it’s time to move on.

5. Your vision has vaporized. The most inspiring leaders are visionaries. If you no longer have a clear and compelling vision – or your vision is greater in another area you’re currently not serving in – it’s a sign it might be time to move on. Like a lack of passion, a lack of vision might actually be a sign you need to work through some significant personal growth; a job change might make the situation worse if it’s a personal malaise you’re in. But if you’re in a generally healthy space, it might be a sign it’s time to move on.

There are other signs as well. My friend Ron Edmondson has written several excellent articles on signs that it’s time to quit.

If you’re interested, I also devoted a whole chapter of my new book, Leading Change Without Losing It, to not quitting (and supplied some strategies on how to do that). You can get a copy here.

So what do you think? How do you know when it’s time to move on?

And –I’m curious–how often do you think people leave a position when what they really need to do is stay and work through their own personal growth?

Carey is the lead pastor of Connexus Community Church, a growing multi-campus church near Toronto and strategic partner of North Point Ministries. Prior to starting Connexus in 2007, Carey served for 12 years in a mainline church, transitioning three congregations into a single, rapidly growing congregation. He speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting. Carey recently wrote Leading Change Without Losing It and co-authored Parenting Beyond Your Capacity with Reggie Joiner. He and his wife, Toni, live near Barrie, Ontario, and have two sons, Jordan and Sam. In his spare time, you can find him cycling his heart out on a back road somewhere. Connect with Carey on Twitter or on his blog.

This post originally appeared January 9, 2013, at Used with permission from the author.