Why We Need to Pay Attention to Pete Wilson’s Resignation

by | Sep 13, 2016 | Sabbath


Tired, broken and in need of rest. That’s how Senior Pastor, Pete Wilson described himself while standing in front of thousands who were listening to his Sunday sermon at Cross Point Church in Nashville on September 11. And maybe we are all a little tired, broken, and in need of rest but we aren’t bold enough to admit it.

Maybe the shock on people’s faces isn’t so much about the unwanted news of a resignation as it is about holding up a mirror.

Fourteen years ago, the first seed of Wilson’s dream was planted and it grew into one of America’s fastest growing churches. And some may fall under the temptation of interpretation, naming Wilson’s final address to thousands as failure.

He didn’t have what it takes.

He was unprepared for success.

He is making a big mistake as a leader.

Leaders who live on empty don’t lead well. As the wife of a Pastor who leads church planting movements, I breathe Wilson’s prophetic words as oxygen. As a Sabbath mentor to hundreds and an author publishing her first book, his words are a rebuke I long to hear from God often. Tired and broken is not the Jesus way to flourish.

What if you were to admit being tired, broken and in need of rest, not in front of thousands, but at the altar of your kitchen sink, at the rails of your child’s crib, behind the wheel of your car on the way to your next appointment.

What if admitting you’re not okay is the Jesus way that leads to your greatest success?

Everyone is welcome because nobody’s perfect and everything is possible, it’s the slogan of Cross Point Church and it’s the heart of God in Sabbath – all are invited, no one rests perfectly, and everything is possible because I love you.

Trust Jesus with time and he’ll blow your mind with possibility.

Perhaps a slogan that builds a church isn’t so much a meditation as it is about inviting mediation — the Holy Spirit breaking into your chaos with Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Seem counterintuitive?

In the Hebrew, the words be still mean to allow yourself to become weak, to let go, surrender and release your grip. And isn’t this what we are all witnessing from a man who is admitting he is spent; a man who is bravely choosing a legacy of leading well over mediocrity.

Wilson’s resignation from work is a warning to all of us: Cultivate a Sabbath heart because God has created you to flourish, not just exist.

Rest has been on God’s heart from the beginning and he is relentless in proclaiming it. God created the seventh day and it was the first time he named something holy. Listen! And beware of translating holiness as perfectionism and following a set of rules.

We let go in order to know that we are not the center of the universe. And in Sabbath, we release our self-sufficiency in order to claim the riches that reside in His all-sufficiency.

Let’s engage less in accusing, assessing and assigning judgment and practice more listening and leaning into stillness.

We don’t need to know the details leading to Wilson’s decision in order to perceive he is a voice in our wilderness, a warning for the weary — Am I enough? Do you trust me? Remember the Sabbath.

How will you respond?


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  1. dukeslee

    Such needed words here, Shelly. Your words are a beacon for us all, whether we are in public ministry or not. I so appreciate you.

    • dukeslee

      I want to add that Pastor Wilson’s resignation is a fresh reminder for us to pray for our pastors, to give them margin, to release them for rest, and to acknowledge that burnout is a huge problem in ministry. Something’s got to change.

      • Shelly Miller

        Yes, couldn’t agree more. Maybe his bold, brave act will be the beginning of greater sensitivity to those who lead us. Boundaries are good, but we don’t always want pastor’s to have them.

    • Shelly Miller

      I think God used Pete Wilson as the beacon and I couldn’t not respond. Rest is the message God gave me and it is the message on His heart for such a time as this. Thanks Jennifer!

  2. ritaschau

    Wonderfully stated. I frequently find myself admitting I am tired, broken, and plain worn out. Now I just need to figure out a way to change. 🙂 Thank you for your insights.

    • Shelly Miller

      We all need to figure it out. That’s the point, I think. Rest doesn’t happen unless we are intentional and committed to persevering. Keep trying, seeking, fighting for it!

      • Katie

        Lyli said it all when she shared: “Rest must be on your to-do list, or you will have nothing left to give. Margin makes your ministry more fruitful and your life more fulfilling.”
        Have seen this born out time and again in my 57 years – in pastors, parents, professors,
        . . .

  3. Zena Neds-Fox

    “Trust Jesus with time and he’ll blow your mind with possibility.”

    may it be so in my life.

    i’m sitting this morning letting distraction rule. i appreciate your words bringing me back to time held in the hands of jesus.

    ~ zena

    • Shelly Miller

      Zena, distraction and I are best buddies. Keep trusting Him with your minutes and he will show off. Lovely to see you here!

  4. Sandra Heska King

    “We let go in order to know that we are not the center of the universe.”

    How many of us refuse to rest for fear of discovering the universe does not revolve around us?

    • Shelly Miller

      No many. Most of us like to stay in denial.

  5. Amy

    Single mom of 3, homeschooling one, struggling with failing physical health, moving out of the only home we have known in 10 days….. Weary doesn’t even begin to describe it… A bone aching, spirit breaking exhaustion…. Lord now is the time for me to learn this lesson in the midst of it all.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh Amy, I feel your tiredness, I do. And I just asked God to show you how to make rest realistic. Thanks for being here.

  6. Leah Adams

    Coming to your blog for the first time….a lovely place. God made clear that my 2016 OneWord was REST. He has made certain that I did more of that than I am usually comfortable with. I admire this Pastor so much. It took an absolute certainty that he was being obedient to what God was telling him to do to resign. Good for him. Good for his family. Good for his relationship with Jesus. He will reap untold benefits and blessings for his willingness to bend his knee to the Lord’s directive. By the way, I am so eager to get your book. Fits well with where God has me this year.

    • Shelly Miller

      Leah! Welcome to my blog home, I’m so glad you chose to visit. Rest is a good word and I would love to hear what God is teaching you this year. I too, admire Pete Wilson for his brave act in resignation. May his actions be the permission many of us need to rest when we need it.

      • Leah Adams

        Shelly, this year of rest has been all about learning that my acceptance by God and by others around me does not, must not, hinge on my activity and productivity. My love language is acts of service. I am a do-er, and honestly I get lots of personal satisfaction (be it right or wrong) by checking off my to-do list, by serving others. For so much of my 52 years I ‘graded’ myself on how productive I was, AND I assumed others did as well.
        When God made it clear that rest was my word for 2016, I might have been slightly miffed at Him. I knew this one was going to require something of me that past words have not. I was forced to rest early in the year with a back injury. It was a sweet, healing time that surprised me so much.
        I have tried to do better on the resting front. Very often I have to fight against the feeling that I am being ‘lazy’ when I take time to rest. Yet I know in my head that even Jesus rested. So, how prideful it is of me to think that I do not need rest. It is a process, and one that I still do not claim to be successful at. Still learning the benefits, and that there is no shame in it!

  7. Carrie Givens

    Thank you for sharing this perspective. I’m grateful to be part of a church whose elders instituted a sabbatical for all the pastoral staff about 13 years ago. After 7 years of ministry, each pastor takes a two-month sabbatical. It’s an amazing model, and one that trickles down to the day-to-day work in the office. I’ve work in communications for the church for two years, and I have been called outside of my 9-5 work hours only one or two times in that period–typically with a simple question (about something *I* left incomplete before a weekend). This model of ministry is refreshing to see in a church.

  8. Steve Simms

    Perhaps we need to go beyond the 1-man pastor controlled church. An alternative is presented in the book “Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia” available on Amazon @ http://amzn.to/2ctmST5

  9. Ally | The Speckled Goat

    “Do you trust Me?”

    Oh how difficult that is to answer in honesty. I’m learning though, that the more I know who I am in Christ, the better I understand that I live in His Kingdom (and not mine!), the better able I am to trust. To let go. To seek His face.

  10. Lyli Dunbar

    I’ve been praying for restoration for Pastor Pete and his family. My heart hurts for his church family. — Having served in ministry for close to 3 decades, I’ve seen this happen over and over again. I had to learn this lesson myself when I crashed and burned back in the late 90’s. More is not always best. Rest must be on your to-do list, or you will have nothing left to give. Margin makes your ministry more fruitful and your life more fulfilling.

  11. Nancy Ruegg

    My husband served as a pastor for forty years. Taking time to rest was always a challenge. Even during a scheduled break, if an emergency occurred, S. felt compelled to be there–unless, of course, we were miles away. And, as you’ve mentioned in your comment to Jennifer, below, people don’t always want their pastors to have boundaries. If it’s their emergency, they want the pastor there. Perhaps Pete Wilson’s resignation WILL help people to realize that their expectations are sometimes unrealistic–even for a man of God. Pastors are still human, their responsibilities are great, they NEED rest.

  12. Ro Elliott

    Some years ago… While traveling through a painful journey… God whipered… Be still and know I am God… These seemly simple words are so deep and wide… They unearthed so much of myself … My self will… Effort… Earning and so much more… Being still… Leads to finding rest. This process is not for the faint of heart… But oh the glory of it!!!

  13. Lynn D. Morrisseyw

    Shelly, this is so deeply moving. How I pray that somehow you will be able to share this meditation with Pastor Pete. I worked for several pastors for a number of years, and I know theirs is a high, but a difficult calling. Often their congregations do not understand their need to rest and refresh themselves in the Lord and to with their families. Other congregations are demanding and don’t wish to understand. They put themselves first. Thank you for encouraging people not to sit in judgment in any way at all on this man of God, who bravely admits his needs and who bravely follows God’s lead to rest. I did not know him or his ministry, but it’s obvious from what I read that God blessed his ministry with a place of prominence. It would, I imagine, be difficult for a leader to let that go, one who loved his congregation as much as he expressed. It takes a man of great humility to let go, to come away with the Lord to rest, to heal, and to be mended, and to put the needs of his congregation (in terms of their being led well) first. Our pastors need our encouragement, love, and support as they follow God’s bidding, whether to stay or leave. We can’t cling to them or be angry with them, when they know God is calling them away. This line here says it all: “Let’s engage less in accusing, assessing and assigning judgment and practice more listening and leaning into stillness.” Surely we all need to rest our bodies and our tongues. May the Lord use your words here about those in pastoral ministry to go far beyond your regular blog readers. I pray it will be shared many times over. Thank you for caring enough to offer such profound encouragement.

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