by | Jul 20, 2023 | Calling, Leadership, Ministry Leader, Pastor, People Leaving, Transition

Thanks for coming back to our dive into Putting the Good in Goodbye! This week we continue taking an inward look in the mirror when it comes to the arrival and departure of people in the churches we lead.

Last week, we laid the foundation upon which we’ll build. Today we are going dig deep into your God-ordained ministry calling.

Often men and women choose vocational ministry for a variety of wrong reasons. These can include:

  • It looks easier than what you do for a living now.
  • It pays well.
  • People respect spiritual leaders.
  • The work isn’t physically hard.
  • The people you serve will appreciate you.
  • The people you lead will love you for it.
  • God will love you more if you serve Him this way.

If you’ve been in vocational ministry for any length of time, you’re either laughing or crying as you read that list. Or laughing so you don’t cry. At any given time, ministry can be two sides of the same coin: Awesome and terrible, passionate and painful, fulfilling and sacrificial, beautiful and ugly.

In the book, John tells a story about a young man who wants to become a priest, so he goes to an older priest for insight. Ultimately, the old priest puts him through extreme hardship that brings him essentially to the brink of drowning, and then declares, “When you want to become a priest as much as you want your next breath, then come back and see me. Until then, if you can do anything else, go and do it. You are not called to be a priest.” 

In order to healthily process the inevitable hellos and good-byes in ministry, it is crucial to honestly come to terms with some questions: What am I doing here? Do I want this more than I want my next breath?

Take a moment to evaluate this question as honestly as you can: Do you believe God has sent you to where you are now serving? The answer to this is important because the temptation to quit when times get tough can be intense. Conversely, the temptation to believe that you’re the reason for ministry success when things are going well is also very real. Both can be dangerous. So, it’s crucial to know without a doubt that God called you.

There are only three possible answers to this question:


Answer 1: Yes! I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has sent me to this place for this season. 

If this is you, hold on to that truth and the God Who gave it to you. But understand this: Your call doesn’t give you permission to workaholism, or permission to blow by your weekly day off with no concern for its long-term impact on you. Sabbath rest increases our chances for longevity while protecting us from false pride . . . a weekly day off reminds us the ministry is God’s, not ours.


Answer 2: No. I think I got here the wrong way or I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

There is no shame in admitting this. Own it and then find the right place and call as quickly as the change can be made. Making the adjustment sooner than later can minimize pain for you and for the people you pastor.

Answer 3: I’m honestly not sure. 

Again, there’s no shame in this, but finding out for sure one way or the other is crucial to moving forward. Listen carefully for the voice of God to direct you. Keep in mind that tough times are harder to manage if you are uncertain in your call.

Now go and ask! 

Ministry is so much more than a career—it’s an honor and a privilege. The answer to the questions above is so important. Do whatever it takes to seek it out. Ask God, and take all the steps, all the time, and all the cost to really find the answer.

If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt, then you’ll need to address the issue of the people you serve and what to do with them. We will cover that next week. In the meantime, take some time to evaluate these questions!

  1. How certain are you of God’s call on your life?
  2. If you’re uncertain, who can you talk with to help you figure this out?


Rooting and praying for you,

John & Jaime