Is God calling me to a new ministry?
I hear this question regularly. Sometimes, it’s a pastor considering a transition to a new church. At other times, it’s a church member considering an opportunity to serve the Lord in a new way. For others, it’s a young couple sensing God’s call to the mission field. Regardless of the specifics, God’s people often sense when He is calling them to serve Him in new and different ways.
Sometimes, God makes this new ministry assignment abundantly clear. For example, consider when the Lord called Paul and his companions to a new ministry assignment in Acts 16:6-10: “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia; they had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. Passing by Mysia they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, ‘Cross over to Macedonia and help us!’ After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
No question about that calling!
Unfortunately, the Lord doesn’t usually make it so obvious. Most of the time, a new ministry assignment is much more difficult to discern. It requires wisdom, patience, and a humble heart open to God’s leading.
Furthermore, discerning a new ministry assignment is often a process rather than an instantaneous event. It usually involves a series of steps before a Christ-follower is ready to make a decision. Whenever I have considered if God is calling me to something new, I have found the following five steps to be helpful. Perhaps they will be beneficial for you as well.
Step #1: Pray
The best way to discover if God has something new for you is to talk to Him about it. Here are some specific ways to pray:
- Pray for godly wisdom and discernment.
- Pray for God to open the doors that need to be opened and close the doors that need to remain closed.
- Pray for the Lord to increase your desire for the work He has called you to complete. If that is your current ministry, pray that you’ll receive a renewed passion and vision for the role. If it’s a new ministry assignment, pray that your desires will begin to transfer accordingly.
- Pray for peace in your heart regardless of the decision you make.
- If a new assignment is in your future, pray for God to work out all the details of the transition.
Whenever God is about to call you to a new ministry, I have heard others describe both a “push and a pull” in your heart. You begin to sense a push away from your current ministry assignment and a pull towards a new ministry assignment. As you spend significant time with the Lord in prayer, you’ll likely begin to sense both a push and a pull – if God is calling you to something new.
Step #2: Talk to Your Spouse
After talking with the Lord, the most important person to speak with is your spouse. If you are a pastor sensing a change on the horizon, does your wife sense it as well? If not, will she support you if you make a move? These are difficult but necessary questions.
If you are a church member sensing a new service area in the church, will this new assignment present any challenges at home? Will it require more hours away from your family? Is your spouse willing to make that sacrifice?
Regardless of your role in the church, your spouse’s perspective about a potential change in ministry assignment is critical. Make sure that you know how they feel about the situation.
Step #3: Consult Spiritually Mature Christians
After talking with the Lord and your spouse, talk with a few other trusted Christian friends. They are most likely to be impartial, and they may provide a perspective that you had not yet considered. Proverbs 11:14 reminds us that “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
In addition to offering godly wisdom, these trusted confidants can also provide invaluable prayer support. Invite them to join you in prayer as you discern if God is calling you to a new ministry. You’ll be so glad you did.
Step #4: Consider the Pros and Cons
After spending time in prayer, talking with your spouse, and consulting with some of your trusted Christian friends, there will eventually come a time when you’ll need to examine any potential new ministry opportunities through an analytical lens. In other words, you’ll need to explore the pros and cons.
As you consider a new ministry opportunity, what potential benefits would this opportunity present? Make a list of everything that comes to mind. This would include spiritual benefits, family benefits, financial benefits, ministry opportunities, and more. Similarly, make a list of the potential drawbacks as well.
After making both lists, assign each item an importance score from 1-10 (1=lowest, 10=highest). Then, calculate the total of both the potential benefits and drawbacks. How do the two counts compare? Is the benefit score much larger than the drawback score? If so, it could signify that God is paving the way to a new ministry assignment. Is the drawback score significantly larger? Perhaps the Lord is telling you to stay where you are and continue to serve Him. Are the totals similar? If so, make sure that you carefully follow the previous three steps to discern the Lord’s will.
Step #5: Make a Decision
As you use these recommendations to consider potential ministry reassignments, some folks get stuck in what is known as “analysis paralysis.” They just keep analyzing the situation but never pull the trigger one way or the other.
If that describes you, you’re not alone. However, eventually, you’ll need to make a decision. You’ll either need to submit a resume or decline from doing so. You’ll either have to say yes to serving as a Sunday School teacher or no. You’ll either have to respond to God’s call to the nations or refuse to do so. You’ll either have to surrender to the call to pastoral ministry, or you’ll conclude that God is not calling in that way. You can’t waffle forever. Eventually, you’ll have to make a decision.
But the good news is that whatever decision you make, God can still use you. That is – if you’re willing to be used by Him!