I have recently resigned and finished serving almost three years at one of New England's fastest growing evangelical churches. The church grew 733% in five years and averages about 1500 attendees per weekend, up quite a bit from 12 people 13 years ago. While there I was able to be involved in starting a small group ministry, an internship ministry, a young adult ministry and was very involved in the worship on Sunday mornings as worship leader. I had the privilege of sharing my life with others, seeing fruit for my work and enjoyed the dynamic staff and the camaraderie of my peers. For a vocational pastor, it was living a fairy tale in some ways.
Now that is all gone.
Now as a vocational minister of almost 15 years, I was supposed to move on to another "ministry job". I was supposed to go and look for a church to pastor, start small (the big churches don't have vacancies that often) and build something so it could thrive and survive on its own. It was expected of me by many to take a church of 50 or 60 and go from there. I mean, that's what pastors are supposed to do right?
I didn't do what people expected.
Now I'm in a situation with no job (that means no paycheck anymore by the way), no house or apartment, a wife and two children and I didn't do what I am "supposed to do". No, I did the unthinkable. I prayed, listened to God a lot and followed my heart. I searched the longings of my soul to figure out what it was God has crafted me for and what I wanted to do. What did I do you may ask? I decided to sell most of my earthly belongings, send my wife and kids to eastern Canada while I prepare to fly to western Canada to land a job, a place to live and carve out a new life for us.
We are starting over.
Yes, starting over, my life, career, location, EVERYTHING! I will be relocating 3000 miles from where I've been my whole life. Some may think that I'm stupid or crazy. You need to know that this is one of the biggest acts of faith that I have ever trusted God for. In this whole process I've learned to trust God for EVERYTHING! Finances, debt elimination, a place to live in the relocation process, job prospects, family provision and so on and so on. Each and every time we had an obstacle in our path, we have found that God always had an answer for it. I've not had a worry in the process so far. My wife is scared stiff, 100% supportive, but scared stiff. Me, I'm still in awe of the adventure of it.
"Pray, and let God worry." - Martin Luther
In light of starting over, people are realizing that I am not currently returning to vocational ministry. I'm going to work a job and provide for my family and serve the Lord with my gifts in ways that I've wanted to before but couldn't always do so previously. It is puzzling to some because they have this sense that I'm "called to the ministry" and should be a pastor. But I don't know why people think this as the Bible clearly teaches that ALL ARE CALLED TO THE MINISTRY. Being a pastor has absolutely nothing to do with being hired by a church to manage and administrate. That's being a manager and administrating. Being a pastor has everything to do with being up close and personal with sheep, knowing who they are and living where they live. Hey, shepherds even smelled like their sheep. You can't smell like sheep let alone feed them if you aren't in proximity to them.
So in a nutshell I feel like I'm discovering more of who I really am and what I'm really about. Isn't that what we all long for? Look at the statistics of those who hate their jobs and feel stuck in life. Do those people really know who they are and what they really want? Do they have an incling or even a plan as to what they want and how to get there? I feel like I do and it feels great!
"Make no small plans. For they have no power to stir humanity's blood." - Daniel Burnham, a 19th-century architect
So get out there and dream and dream big! Don't let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. Listen to the voice of God and go for what your heart desires, even if people think you're stupid or crazy...live by faith!