Many people have asked me how I knew God was leading me into the pastorate. They share their own internal wrestling and want to know what specifics identify a real call as opposed to a mistaken internal struggle. In truth, Satan loves to keep God’s servants in a state of perpetual unrest and uncertainty. If he can keep us disengaged from the spiritual battle and doubting our place, he has pretty much disabled us!
The primary point of this post is this: the VAST MAJORITY of times that we question or wonder about our position in life and ministry, it is NOT God stirring or moving us.
Everybody struggles. All servants of God wrestle with internal doubts, moments of question, and wondering “what God is up to.” Yet, for the majority of those struggles, the answer is usually, “Stay right where you are—wait out and work through the tough places.”
Honestly, there are a lot more ways to be wrong on these types of decisions than right. Also, a critical key to sustained and fruitful ministry and family life is endurance—sticking and staying—steadfastness.
Again, if Satan can keep us in a state of instability and indecision, he can neutralize us. One of the great fears I had while transitioning into the pastorate was that I could cause someone else to unnecessarily doubt their present place. Knowing that it’s easy to question the will of God, I want to take a few moments to challenge you to stay. Let’s explore eight dynamics you MUST rule out before you conclude that God is leading you into a major change:
1. Decline: A Spiritual Downturn in Your Ministry
Don’t EVER leave God’s perfect will simply because things are not going well at the moment. Fruitful ministries have seasons of strength as well as struggle. Work through it, don’t run from it.
2. Discouragement: A Personal Season of Weariness
Emotions are a blessing, but they OFTEN LIE! If you are weary or discouraged, going some place else will only make you weary and discouraged in a different place. Rest, walk with God, wait on His strength, and don’t let personal discouragement uproot your life.
3. Delusion: An Ego Need or Self-Centered Ambition
Pride is powerful and subtle. It can masquerade in lots of spiritual forms. It can even use biblical terminology. Personal ego and narcissism is an insatiable task-master that will forever keep you unsettled in life and ministry. Don’t let pride pull you from God’s will.
4. Double-Mindedness: A Hidden Sin Leading to Confusion
Hidden sin will keep you confused, disoriented, and double-minded. Sanctify yourself—let God make your heart thoroughly right with Him. Often the solution to ministry confusion is repentance rather than relocation.
5. Division: An Inter-Personal Problem
People struggle with people wherever there are people. Interpersonal mix-ups and misunderstandings are a part of life. Running from interpersonal conflict only prolongs our relational and spiritual immaturities. Issues follow us because they are in us, not around us! If you can’t get along with people where you are, you won’t be able to get along with them where you’re going. Buckle down, swallow your pride, die to self, and work through it in love and grace.
6. Discontent: A Yearning or Coveting for What God Hasn’t Given You
Covetousness is desiring something God hasn’t given to you. Contentment is being grateful for what God has given to you. Contentment is a choice. Chasing after what God doesn’t intend to give you is a losing proposition every time.
7. Deception: A Belief Based upon False Information
Satan is the father of lies, and one way he keeps us uprooted is by lying. In seasons of major decision, we must walk circumspectly, watching and examining for any hint of deception. Sadly, the first six points make us even more susceptible to false information. You can’t make a solid right decision on bad information.
8. Disillusionment: An Unyielded Fantasy or Expectation
God’s will is all that matters. If you have a personal dream or desire that isn’t His will—or maybe it isn’t His will yet—don’t let it grip you. Die to it. Crucify it. Accept who you are, where you are, and wait on God to make His will so clear that it is undeniable! Almost every dream that God has eventually fulfilled in my life was first completely surrendered to Him. True surrender lets a dream die and walks away with no expectation of resurrection!
So, those are my eight reasons to be DEAD SURE you aren’t about to step out of the will of God. Many men have erred by confusing a personal struggle and a providential stirring. The two are very different! Frankly, I spent several months begging God to reveal to me which one of these was my issue. After many sleepless nights and lots of wrestling, He made it clear that none were presently at play in my life.
The ONLY and ULTIMATE reason to make a change is simply OBEDIENCE!
Stay fully engaged, committed, and steadfast where you are until you are 100% positive of the direct call of God confirmed through His Word, His people, and His providential hand in circumstances.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58