They say the average youth or children’s minister stays in a position about three years. Leaving a ministry position is apparently a common part of our ministry lives. Though I never planned on joining the statistic… my family and I have accepted a position at a church in St. Petersburg, Florida and will be moving from Kansas City in two weeks.
My wife and I have felt for about a year that we’ve been waiting for something but we didn’t know what. Apparently God was preparing our hearts for a transition. Though we weren’t planning to go anywhere, we committed ourselves to prayer and found that God had released us and was calling us elsewhere. I’m pleased to say that we’re leaving on great terms… no drama to report. Our primary reason for the move is to be closer to family. This has become very important to us since we’ve had children.
Once a few years ago, I was going through a pretty dark time in my life. No moral failure or anything like that… I was just “going through” as they say. I was feeling as if I wanted to be done with ministry… that I wanted to leave… to get away from the pressure. I talked to a mentor of mine and he gave me some sound advice that I wanted to share in this context. He asked me to recall when God called me to my current position. I was instantly able to remember that moment. He said, “When it’s time to go, He’ll release you the same way. He called you here… he’ll call you away.” His words really clarified things for me. I realized that leaving wasn’t my choice to make. I remained faithful… and God was good.
So when is it time to leave? When God says. It makes all the difference. On those bad days in ministry sometimes the Call is the only thing that keeps you hanging in there. Knowing that in spite of all of our shortcomings and flaws, that you know that you know that God put you where you are can give us the strength we need to hold on. I’m finding that I need that same assurance as I transition between seasons in ministry. Thank God I have it. I know my future is secure, in spite of all of the unknowns, because we’re following the path that has been laid out for us by our Heavenly Father.
Those of you who may be struggling where you are… I would urge you to remember that moment God called you to be where you are. If you want to leave, ask… but wait for that call to go before you throw in the towel. God still had a lot of work to do on me that would have not been possible if I had left before. If he doesn’t release you it’s because he has unfinished work to do in your life and the lives you minister to. Trust that.