Many years ago, I made a realization about ministry that has guided me through the years. The idea is based on a story from the Apostle Paul’s life in Acts 16. There, we find the Apostle Paul following the leadership of the Holy Spirit who was both guiding him and directing him on his journey. He winds up in Troas after being redirected away from Asia. He really wanted the group to go to Bithynia but the “Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” (Acts 16:7, CSB)
That is the way it is in ministry. There will be places you want to go, but God doesn’t lead you there. There will be times you want to stay, but the Spirit will drive you on.
I have never trusted my instinct to flee a ministry responsibility. This desire can develop when I am working away and suddenly run into opposition or difficulty. It can come to the surface when something happens that makes me uncomfortable or feel unhappy. Everything in me says to get away and escape, and yet I have found that is the last thing I should do. If I had run every time ministry got hard, I would have missed God’s biggest victories in my life, not to mention having to move about every other year.
There is a better way to follow the Lord. Instead of trying to escape the very place God has put you, listen for a call that comes from the place God wants you to be. You see this in Paul’s life in Acts 16:9 as Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia. In the vision the man tells Paul, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us.” After he sees the vision and understands it is God’s leadership in his life, Paul and his companions “immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia.” (Acts 16:10, CSB)
Next week, I am leaving LifeWay after 15 years to become the Associate Pastor of Worship at a great church. I have no desire to leave LifeWay and the people I love and respect more than any others I know. This is not an escape, a plan B, or a desire for a new adventure. There is one, and only one reason I would ever do something like this.
I have heard the Macedonian call.
Next week, I’ll share a few final thoughts before I go my way.