After serving in full-time ministry at the same church for 15 years, I have felt an urging from God that He has a new Kingdom assignment for me. During my time at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio, I have served in roles ranging from Children’s Pastor, to Middle School Pastor, to Family Pastor, to Disability Ministry Pastor. I have watched a lot of friends come and go throughout my tenure in these roles. I heard many of my friends talk about being “called by God” to a new assignment. I began to wonder if that would ever be me. And if so, how would I hear from God? Does God really speak like He did to Jonah? To be honest, I was always a bit skeptical when my friends talked about being “called."
Being able to discern God’s will in your life is a critical component of having a healthy ministry transition.
As I searched scripture, trying to uncover this mystery of God’s will for our lives, two passages stood out to me:
- Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV) – “…here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) – “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Notice that no verses from the book of Jonah made the top of my list. There is a reason for that. While I do not discount the fact that God sometimes speaks very specifically about what He wants us to do, I believe that this is the exception and not the rule. Does God speak? Absolutely! What does God primarily speak about? He primarily speaks about us being in awe of Him, being obedient, being joyful, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances. If you think God may be calling you to a new assignment, do a self-assessment on these things. Discerning God’s will is much easier when you are pursuing Him wholeheartedly.
Once you do a self-assessment, take time to ask yourself the following questions (in order).
- How will this move affect my relationship with God? Everything we do, or don’t do, has the ability to either draw us closer to God or drive us away from Him. God would not want you to take a new assignment if the circumstances would put a strain on your relationship with Him.
- How will this move affect my relationship with my family? Just like God would not want you to make a move that would adversely impact your relationship with Him, neither would He want you to do anything that would negatively impact your family. No ministry leader can have maximum ministry impact if his or her family is not fully supportive. Family life always bleeds into work life.
- How will this move affect my ability to make Kingdom impact? Please note that this question comes after the other two. If the first two questions cannot be answered in a positive way then it might not be worth asking the third. If you are living in obedience to God you can have positive Kingdom impact wherever you are. Ask yourself if this new opportunity would open the door for you to share the Gospel with more people. You might also consider whether you have reached everyone that God would want you to reach in your current assignment. Finding release is as important as seeing opportunity.
- How has God prepared me for this new opportunity? God will not call you to a new assignment if He has not prepared you for it. Looking into the future almost always requires looking into the past. It’s only in retrospect that we can see how God has actively prepared us for new things.
If all these questions can be answered positively then God may be up to something. This list of questions is certainly not exhaustive, and I would encourage you to invite trusted individuals into the process.
Does God speak? Absolutely. More often than not He speaks to us through the Bible and through trusted people who know us well.
As you seek the will of God, be careful not to allow discomfort or difficult times in your current assignment to be the primary motivator for finding a new assignment. Don’t allow troubled times to drive you away from a work that God wants you to endure and complete.
Determining God’s will is paramount in seasons of transition. As you assess your heart and challenge yourself with these questions, I pray that His will for your path becomes clear.