How do you know when God is closing one door in ministry and opening another? I get this question a lot working with pastors as often as I do.
Several times in my ministry, first as a layperson and since then in vocational ministry, God has called me to leave one ministry and begin another. It can be a scary place to face the unknown, yet know that God is up to something new in your life. In sharing my experience I am hoping it can help others process through what God may be doing in their life. Please realize that God uses unequaled experiences in each of our lives, but at the same time there are some common patterns I think each of us may experience, while the details remain unique.
This has been the process that I have experienced as God has led me to something new:
- Wonderful sweet success – Each time the door of a new opportunity opened it began opening (looking back) when things were going well in my current ministry.
- Inner struggle – I usually have not been able to understand what God is up to, but there is something in me (and usually in my wife at the same time) where I know God is doing something new. While I do not know what it is, and not even if it involves a change in my place of ministry, I know God is doing a new work in my heart about something.
- Closeness to Christ – Brennan Manning calls it a Dangerous love of Christ. During the times leading up to a change of ministry assignment I will be growing in my relationship with Christ, usually in new depths of trust and abandonment. Again, looking back and I can see this clearly, but at the time I usually am just enjoying the ride and the closeness to Christ.
- Opportunity presents itself – The opportunity often seems to come from nowhere, but with multiple experiences now I can see the pattern that has occurred each time. It is only after these first three experiences that God brings a new opportunity my way. That is probably because my spirit must be totally aligned with His Spirit in order for me to trust the new work He calls me to. I have yet to be completely “ready” for the next step in my journey with Christ, because it always involves a leap of faith on my part, but this process prepares me to be ready to say “Yes Lord…Here am I…send me.”
- I surrendered to God’s call – After I receive confirmation in my spirit, review the journey God has had us on, and Cheryl and I agree on where God is leading, I have yet to refuse the next assignment. That does not mean it is easy to leave my current ministry, but it has always been most rewarding to know we are in the center of God’s will for our life.
A special word to the spouse: Cheryl has never been “ready” to leave friends in our current ministry, but she has always lined with me in knowing God was calling us to a new work in our life.
Have you shared these experiences? What other experiences have you had that have led you to step out by faith into a new adventure with Christ?
SPECIAL NOTE to the people of Grace Community Church: This post is not about me, at least for now. I use this blog to minister to other pastors and ministers. As of now I am where I am supposed to be at Grace. It is important to always remember, however, that I do not work for Grace Community Church. I work for a person and His name is Jesus Christ. I keep thanking Him daily for allowing me to be a part of the work He is doing at Grace.