Considering change in the course of a ministry career is exciting and overwhelming. It is a decision that sometimes carries with it grief; sometimes relief. There are many different reasons that a minister might consider moving on elsewhere. But the primary motivation, always, should be the Spirit of God speaking to one’s heart through prayer.
All ministers know how quickly the stresses and obligations involved in ministry can overshadow our own spiritual lives. We have all the best intentions, but sometimes our private devotional time dwindles in the midst of all the studying we do to prepare sermons and Sunday School lessons. If we are not careful, we may try to do God’s work without even consulting God about it.
But God, communicating through His Holy Spirit, is the one who calls us. And His voice is the only one we should trust when choosing when and where to move on in ministry. Sometimes, this means saying no to a position or plan that is attractive and makes sense in favor of something that scares us and seems to make no sense at all.
For this reason, it is crucial that a minister maintain a rich prayer life. Prayer is the station where we are fueled for the work of ministry. Scripture tells us:
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18
Our human hearts can easily mislead us. How can we be intentional about creating space for prayer and to listen to the voice of God?
Below are three ways we can begin to engage in prayerful communication with God in order to hear His voice and where He is leading us.
- Set Aside Time for Prayer Everyday
While prayer should never be just another thing to check off of our to-do list, it can be helpful to carve out a time during the day for intentional prayer. Many find that their hearts are especially receptive to God’s voice first thing in the morning or just before bed in the evening. Making a habit out of praying at a certain time of day is a way a minister can check in with God and prepare to hear God’s voice when it is time to make a change.
- Ask, and Ye Shall Receive
The Bible tells us,
“Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened unto you.” Matthew 7:7
The best way for us to find out where God wants us to go next, is to simply ask. God wants us to come to Him for guidance. He will provide answers to us if we soften our hearts to receive what He has to say. Name specifics in your questions to God. Is there a church you feel called to? Ask God if He is calling you there. Do you feel that it is time to leave the church you are at right now? Ask God directly. There is power in questions. Questions give God the opportunity for answers and help posture our hearts to receive from God.
- Be Still and Listen
When we pray, it is so easy for us to do all the talking. But prayer is meant to be a conversation. That means we should spend just as much time listening for God’s voice as we do asking God for answers. It is okay to sit in the stillness with our questions and doubt and uneasiness and simply wait for God to show us which way to go. It is in the silence that God’s voice comes through as clear as day.
Ministry transitions are hard, but God will not fail us. God desires for us to do His will. He has a plan for us and a plan to use us. When we want the same thing that God wants, He will make a way.