Some of you will be considering a ministry move this summer and want to make sure that God is orchestrating it. It is normal to reach the end of another church-year and take stock of your life and ministry. I want to share a few ways that helped me to know the right time to leave a ministry.
Seek Confirmation Through Fasting and Prayer
Nehemiah fasted and prayed for four months prior to making his radical career move to Jerusalem. Janet and I set aside a month to pray and fast (not every day) before saying “Yes” to LifeWay two years ago. I have often counseled people who are considering a job, relationship, or ministry change to do the same.
Moses fasted before he received the ten commandments; Daniel fasted twice – once as a teenager and once in his eighties; Elijah fasted before he hired Elisha; Jesus fasted right before He recruited His Disciples and started His ministry; Paul was fasting when God called him into the ministry; Peter’s assignment to reach the Gentiles came during a fast. Joshua, Joel, Ezra, Esther, and David fasted as well.
Christians should never make a life-changing decision before praying and fasting for direction – especially choosing a spouse or a job. Fasting heightens our spiritual senses to see through God’s eyes, as well as hear His still, small voice. Cru has a good post to show you how to fast.
Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off (Acts 13:3).
Listen to Counsel from Mentors and Peers
Most of my pastor friends, including my mentor, told me that pastoring pastors would be a natural fit for me. Some went so far as to tell me that I would be a fool to pass on this opportunity to serve pastors.
I would caution you not to start here, but rather listen to these voices after you have given time to hear directly from God first.
Put Out Multiple Fleeces
My first fleece was the condition I put on accepting this position. I would say “no” if it meant taking my son out of school his senior year, which I fortunately did not have to do.
I felt compelled to accept the position before I knew what the salary or position/title would be—which were two important fleeces for me. I am not suggesting you use these same fleeces, but I do think that a ministry move requires a bold demonstration of faith and humility.
Assess the Health of the Church
I did not leave my church because I found a better church or ministry. I loved my church family and staff tremendously, and was thankful for God’s hand of favor on our church. The leaders were unified and focused, which took some of the guilty aftertaste out of leaving the church family we loved so dearly.
Don’t Stress Over Your Successor
Some hesitate to leave a church because they fear who might follow them. I came to the conclusion that if God was calling me to leave, He had already chosen my successor. My church got a huge upgrade!
May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the community who will go out before them and come back in before them, and who will bring them out and bring them in, so that the Lord’s community won’t be like sheep without a shepherd (Num. 27:16-17)
Whether God is leading you to Nashville or Nairobi, you can trust that His plans will eventually become clear and will be in everyone’s best interest.
I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel (Ps. 32:8).