A friend of mine is facing a difficult decision: He’s been offered a big promotion at his secular job.
However, he’s concerned that taking the promotion could make it harder for him to reenter vocational ministry. Although he’s not currently serving in a church, he has done so very effectively in the past and hopes to again soon.
Below is what I wrote him in an email. How would you advise him?
Yesterday morning my son Justin and I had a devotion time together. We read from Acts 16:6-10. Our take on it was that God prevented Paul from going where he wanted to go in order to keep his schedule open to go where God needed him to go. Paul and his companions finally “concluded” that God had called them to Macedonia–no doubt based on the vision and the closed travel attempts. Best I can tell, to “conclude” something means to put clues together and make an informed decision.
I wonder if that passage in Acts has some application for you? Possible similarities to Paul’s situation: You have tried desperately to get back into itinerant ministry. But on at least two different occasions over the past couple of years, you were “prevented” due to circumstances beyond your control. Furthermore, Paul had a passion to preach the Gospel and reach people, as do you. But Paul didn’t rely on ministry to pay his bills; he had a “secular job”–as do you (albeit his job was somewhat more flexible than yours).
One obvious difference is that you haven’t had a “vision” while you slept (that I know of). But have you had any other clues that might help you conclude God’s next call of ministry for you? Like Paul, your ministry of preaching and pastoring can certainly be done well–even with a secular job.
What I pray for you more than anything is that ministry (in whatever form) will always take priority over money. Like the old preacher painted on his barn: “Ministry is my business. I just farm to pay my bills.” And if I can borrow from an old saying, when I think of you, I think, “You can take the boy out of ministry, but you can’t the ministry out of the boy.”
Hope you didn’t mind a bit friendly food for thought. Praying for you!