Last week I wrote a response blog to John Barner's "When Is It Time to Look for Another Place of Ministry?" I would like to continue my thoughts on that specific question. First, I want to share seven truths about God’s heart regarding ministry transitions and then I want to share four steps to knowing it is time to move.
7 Truths about God’s Heart
1. God blesses faithfulness. Scripture teaches that the person who is faithful in that which is least will be made ruler over much. When a servant is diligent, disciplined, and determined, one should not be surprised that God honors that servant with greater responsibility.
2. God always prepares us before He uses us. So, the question might be, how has God prepared you for your next assignment? What new work has He done in you? What new challenge has He taken you through?
3. God takes us or calls us somewhere as a general principle. Only rarely does He simply takes us away from an existing set of uncomfortable circumstances. Yet on occasion, He does just that.
4. God uses the usable servant. The question we must ask ourselves is "am I usable?" Is there anything in me that is prohibiting the Lord from using me, or you? Is there anything in us that The Lord is waiting on us to correct?
5. Sometimes, God puts us into what appears to be a holding pattern because He is intentionally freeing us up to do something else which by hindsight is of great if not monumental importance. I think of Jonathan Edwards' termination at Northampton after serving the church for 24 years. In what appeared to be his exile to Stockbridge, he wrote some of his greatest works. He had time to think and write--something he could not have done had his unfortunate circumstances not transpired.
6. If we will be faithful, God will be responsible to get us where He wants us. It is of great importance for us to be patient and to keep our eyes focused on God in whose hands our lives reside.
7. Finally, pragmatically, we must ask ourselves the question, "Did I complete the assignment God gave me when I accepted my last responsibility? If not, why do we think that God will let us leave? Ought we not complete what we start? Now that does assume cooperation on the part of those God called us to lead.
How do you know God wants you to move?
1. The first indicator that God wants you to move is that He places a restlessness in your Spirit that He is going do something new in you and through you.
2. Next, when you have a peace that you are supposed to be somewhere else and the door opens, you can assume that God is orchestrating the unfolding events. Sometimes, however, He tests you to see if you are willing to go and it is not His will that you go. Recall Abraham's offering of Isaac. The issue was the heart and the willingness.
3. When the church or ministry, for whatever reason, chooses not to follow your leadership, you do not need to stay. That from my perspective is an exercise in futility.
4. Finally, you need to move on when your staying does more harm than good.
Remember this, you only have so many days of your life to invest in ministry. Do not waste what God has allotted to you. Remember Psalm 90:12. At the same time, do not leave until God tells you to go. How do you know? There is an overwhelming sense of peace that "this is the right thing to do." Caution, you may not emotionally want to go...or stay...still, the key is "peace" about what is "right." Recall Philippians 4:6-7. Trust God with all your heart and He will guide you!