Pastor, are you in a place where you are hoping to make a move, preferably to a nicer, bigger, more comfortable or prestigious position?
This afternoon I received an email from a young associate pastor of a nearby church. He wanted to pick my brain about how to find a senior pastor position here in North County.
His note to me indicated that he and his wife feel called to a senior pastorate here in the area. They don’t want to live anywhere else. (We live in San Diego County, who can blame them?)
Eight months ago he visited my office and I counseled with him on this same subject. I listened and tried to encouraged him. I had never met him before, so I didn’t feel it was my place to be truly straightforward with him.
This afternoon, however, I felt the Lord leading me to call him to a higher, more challenging vision for himself.
If you’re seeking the Lord’s guidance on a new ministry position, you might find this helpful:
Dear Pastor _______,
It looks like it might be hard for us to time a time to get together in person, so I’ll give you my best advice here, with sincere love attached to it.
If you’re called to a senior pastor position, and you’re sure that you’re limited in scope to only this area, I encourage you to do a two to three day prayer and fasting retreat to confirm it with the Lord. See if He grants you further clarity on where and how to look, and how to proceed.
While on that retreat, do a fearless personal inventory of why He won’t call you elsewhere. Also while there, talk to Him about how much you are willing to give up in order to achieve His will.
How big a step down are you willing to take to follow God’s leading? Down was Jesus’ direction (Phil. 2:5-11).
The principle of the harvest is, you reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7). How much are you willing to sow in order to reap a harvest?
Jesus’ words in John 12:24 helped me to have the courage to believe that God could do great things if I was willing to give up everything on His behalf, and He probably wouldn’t do great things if my motives were about comfort and/or status.
In the passage, Jesus said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it…” (John 12:24).
Until you receive the call to a new position, I would ask your current pastor for more responsibility, or permission to start something new and big, along with your current responsibilities. That will help fill up the parts of you that want to do more and better things than you’re currently doing.
Before launching this new, big thing, make sure it is within your pastor’s vision for the church. The last thing you would ever want to do is undermine or compete with the senior pastor’s vision.
Instead of looking elsewhere, practice Psalm 37:3,
“Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely.”
In other words, dwell where you are currently. Make the job big enough for your gifts and ambitions by building significant things under the blessing and vision of your pastor.
If, after prayer and fasting, you’re convinced your calling is limited to our geographic area, consider church planting (though only with your pastor’s blessing).
If you’re not called and gifted to plant a church, continue to do what you’re doing – asking other pastors about openings.
As you seek this new position, assume the Lord would want you to take a step down (Phil. 2:5-11). To find this step, ask the leaders of your denomination to put you in touch with the small and hurting churches that could desperately use someone like you. Start contacting these churches. Make clear you will work for little or no money, taking a day job if you need to in order to fulfill God’s calling (Jn. 12:24 again.)
The adventure of serving Jesus isn’t a stroll in the park, looking for something comfortable. It’s a process of “working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
Ask Him for an assignment worthy of a lifetime of work and sacrifice.
Ask Him for the hard assignment that will make you a man of deep faith.
Ask Him for something you can only do in His power and with His provision.
That will be the investment worthy of your life, and will earn you crowns in heaven.
Dr. Hal Seed
Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. Hal mentors pastors to lead healthy, growing churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.
Start Here to learn more about the resources available for you at PastorMentor.