Most ministry leaders experience hills and valleys as well as twists and turns in their work. Changes of all kinds can leave us feeling uncomfortable in our circumstances, unqualified to do much of anything, or uncertain of the plan God has for us. But this is not a new challenge.
Joseph had dreams as a teenager, dreams that led him first into slavery and then into prison. Neither situation came with any kind of “ministry leader” title, but Joseph was doing the work of ministry in the household of Potiphar and in the walls of his prison cell. He was revealing God to others through his actions and his words. Eventually, those actions and words led him into a position of leadership. But he never sought it out.
Moses spent years living away from other people before God called him to return to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of slavery. Moses didn’t want to be a ministry leader and he didn’t want to go anywhere. God had to push until Moses finally relented, and Moses complained about his role almost as often as the Israelites complained about their circumstances. But God chose a reluctant leader like Moses to reveal HIS power and draw the people of Israel to HIM.
Daniel was living in exile when he was asked to serve the leader of the people who had conquered his. He must have been flooded with all kinds of emotions at this prospect, but he was wise enough to know that God might be giving him this unusual – and uncomfortable – opportunity for a reason. Sure enough, God situated Daniel in a position of secular influence so that he could be a powerful witness. Daniel never gave a sermon, but he lived out his faith so that others could see it. And they did.
If you find yourself in a season of struggle in ministry, pause to remember these important truths:
Like Joseph, your ministry is not defined by your circumstances. You can live out your calling no matter where you find yourself right now. You can know that God is with you wherever you go and minister to whoever is around you.
Like Moses, your ministry is not defined by your eagerness to serve or any special talents you might have. You can rest in God’s ability to use your weaknesses to reveal His strength. You can turn to Him again and again, knowing that He has chosen you even if no one else would.
Like Daniel, your ministry is not defined by your employer or your job title. You can do ministry in the context of any career simply by being the person God has made you to be. You can live faithfully so that others around you can see God and begin to wonder about Him.
In the past decade, I have served in four different professional ministry roles as well as several volunteer positions. Right now, I find myself working in a temporary job outside of ministry and looking at an array of professional opportunities for the future. But my ministry has not stopped. God has opened my eyes to see ministry opportunities everywhere I look. God is pushing me to let Him work through my weaknesses rather than staying in my comfort zone and relying on my strengths. God is broadening my view of where and how I can do ministry in the world. And through it all, God is inviting me to cling to Him with all my might and to let go of everything else.
If you are walking through a season of transition from one environment to another or from one job to another, know that God is walking through it with you. He is your Shepherd; you are His sheep. You know His voice. Listen for it, and He will guide you where to go and what to do.You can access this entire magazine for free here: Edition 39