Every single person I know in vocational ministry started with one main purpose in mind: to be obedient to God and make a difference in the Kingdom.
Let's face it... church work is tough. The pay (usually) isn't all that great. Many times the challenges are huge and the payoffs seem diminished. Many church staff people I know are frustrated that they aren't seeing more change, more growth, more (you fill in the blank).
In my work with Chemistry Staffing this past year, I've personally interviewed a few hundred church staff people looking for new ministry assignments. In each and every interview, I ask the question:
Why do you feel that NOW is the time to move on from the church that you've been serving?
As you can imagine, I hear all different kinds of responses. Here are a few:
- I'm frustrated
- I'm bored
- I need more money
- I want to be in a different location
- I have theological differences where I'm at
- It's just time for a change
- My church has changed direction
- My church has new leadership
- I'm feeling burned out here
- My work here is done
And some of these are great reasons to move on.
All of us make transitions. In fact, it is rare for a person to spend their entire ministry career in one church.
So how do you know when it's time to go or time to hunker down and stay?
It's something all of us in ministry think about.
And I think many of us think about it on an almost ongoing basis. It goes back to our initial calling (to be obedient to God and make as big an impact as possible). And honestly, it's one of the most important 'self-check' questions we can continually ask ourselves.
So how do you know when it's time to leave or when it's time to stay?
Sometimes life is good. Ministry is thriving. Your family is healthy. And from every outward appearance, it would make no logical sense to leave the ministry position you are in.
But sometimes in these situations, God nudges you to move on.
Sometimes when you're in this situation, you look at the circumstances and it makes NO SENSE whatsoever that you would even consider leaving.
But you feel unsettled... like God is asking you to do something different.
So you pray and are open to this 'nudging' that you're not even sure is real.
Long story short... you leave a great situation, stepping out on faith that God has something different on the horizon for you.
That's a courageous move. Giving up comfort, the security, the paycheck, the office, the friends, for the known. All for something that you're not entirely sure will work out.
The lesson: We don't know what hangs in the balance of our decision... but God knows.
God knows about all the people that would/could be changed by your move. We have no idea what hangs in the balance of a move.
I would say, of the hundreds of people that I've talked to this year, a small minority are in this situation. My guess is that there are many others that are thinking this way, but haven't taken the first step to act on the prompting from the Holy Spirit yet.
Yes, sometimes God moves us on when things are going great. For those of us that have been asked to do this, it is a scary but tremendous time of faith-building in our own lives.
But we have to have the courage to take the step. Even (especially) when things are going well.
Have you ever left your ministry role when things were going great? I'd love to hear more about your story.
Maybe you're there now. Let's touch base. I'd love to hear about how you're processing your possible move.