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I’ve served in many churches and ministries over the years, and I’ve eventually left as many places as I’ve served. For me, knowing when it’s time to leave usually comes down to one of two things: 1) restlessness inside me or 2) circumstances around me. God has used both of these as signs to help get my attention when He’s preparing me for a change in ministry assignment.
1. Inner restlessness
As leaders in the church, we’ve probably all experienced some restlessness at times. So, I want to be clear: Feeling restless does not mean we forfeit our sense of peace. On the contrary, restlessness that negates our peace with God is not the kind of restlessness I’m referring to here.
Deep and abiding peace comes from our relationship and fellowship with the Lord. Romans 5:1 tells us, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (NLW). According to Philippians 4:6-7 the peace of God that passes understanding should guard our hearts and minds at all times. It’s the kind of peace that can sustain us even in the midst of our storms.
Not until we have assurance of God’s peace ruling in our hearts should we even consider any restlessness we might be feeling.
Not until we have assurance of God’s peace ruling in our hearts should we even consider any restlessness we might be feeling. Holy restlessness must come from a position of righteous peace that’s free of worry and full of faith. Thus, before we can discern God’s will for us, we need to first check our spiritual condition. We must take a cleansing bath of confession from any sins and ill motives we might have.
Reasons for Restlessness
We can grow restless in our spirit when…
1. We see God being dishonored and injustices happening, or
2. We sense opportunities to honor God and build His Kingdom.
In Exodus 2, Moses saw an injustice being done by an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew, and his reaction was to kill the Egyptian. The anger he felt at that moment came from a restlessness inside him; he could not simply sit back and do nothing. And neither should we. While we are to avoid harming anyone physically, we should not ignore atrocities and injustices that dishonor God and hurt others.
In a similar way, we shouldn’t ignore or excuse erroneous teaching by a pastor or church leaders. And we certainly shouldn’t just fall in line and go against what we believe.
I had some disagreements once with the pastor and elders of a church where I was the worship pastor. They had a different philosophy of worship ministry and evangelism than I did. For example, I didn’t believe their interpretation of the purpose and focus of worship services was scripturally sound. In a case like that, rather than go against your convictions to keep your job, I believe it’s better to quietly resign, move on and trust the Lord to open another opportunity for you.
Rather than go against your convictions to keep your job, it’s better to quietly resign, move on and trust the Lord.
We can also grow restless when we see and sense more effective ways we can help impact God’s Kingdom. John Piper says, “Spiritual leaders have a holy discontentment with the status quo…Leaders have a hankering to change, to move, to reach out, to grow, and to take a group or an institution to new dimensions of ministry.”1
In 2015 the Lord spoke to me in no uncertain terms and told me he wanted to use Next Level Worship to disciple and mentor worship leaders internationally. On a plane ride from South Africa to Atlanta He gave me clear instructions about what we were to do.
That was a defining moment that’s changed the course of my life and ministry. I could no longer be content with status quo. God had shown me something more. He created in me a restlessness which exists even now and motivates me every day to serve Him and work toward fulfilling that vision.
What about You?
What has the Lord placed in your heart? What has He clearly shown you that He wants you to do? Can you fulfill that calling where you are now? Or, do you need to begin preparing for a potential change in your ministry location?
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