Job-Seekers: Is The Grass Really Greener?
By: Danny Watterson March 10, 2015
I’ve heard it said many times, “The hardest decisions in life aren’t made between what’s good and bad but rather between what’s good and what’s best.”
A life spent serving in ministry is really no different. It’s all good. Giving your life for Kingdom work no matter the trials, obstacles, or red-tape you may be facing in your current role is indeed, all good. We are told in James 1:2-3 to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." We all need to learn a thing or two from his level of contentment, faith in God’s plan, and attitude of perseverance.
With that being said, transitions are still sometimes a part of one’s ministry journey, and the question between what’s good and what’s best is running through the minds of many pastors at many levels across the country. We ask ourselves questions such as:
- “Am I called to a specific church and/or a specific position?”
- “Am I called to ministry in general and the location is irrelevant?”
- “Am I called to be a student pastor forever or am I called to something else?”
No doubt viewpoints on one’s “calling” will vary from person to person, but how do we wrestle with these questions of whether it’s time to go or time to stay?
Here are 3 things to consider when making decisions in a season of transition.
1. Have you recently made a transition?
The average Student Pastor tenure is 18 months. I truly believe that this is detrimental to both churches and students and it needs to change. If you’ve made a recent move already, dig your heels in and beat the average for that position before considering a new role. It goes a long way toward establishingconsistency with the people you’re pastoring, helping the church develop their team, and, if nothing else, developing perseverance and patience.
Consider what short ministry stints look like on your resume. As you might imagine, we look at countless resumes every day here at Vanderbloemen Search Group. Many pastors in every area of ministry seem to spend more time explaining their transitions and departures than celebrating their successes and sharing their ministry victories. Even if you’re in a tough situation, persevere for a determined amount of time and know that you’re getting stronger because of it.
2. Have you hit a ceiling?
Sometimes a church staff is stacked with talented people. If you feel like you have more to offer but there’s a long line of tenured and favored staff in front of you, maybe it is time to start asking the transition questions. Does God want you to stay as the Assistant Worship Leader or have you spent time learning and growing for long enough? If you’ve persevered, been patient, and learned a lot along the way but see no room to spread your wings, maybe it’s time to think about next steps.
3. Is your heart pure?
One of the worst ways to leave a ministry position is with bitterness or resentment. If you plan to leave a ministry because the church or an individual has done you or someone else wrong, the responsibility lands on you to bring it to attention and try to finish on good terms. Matthew 18 gives us clear instruction that helps prevent us from holding on to such things. Leaving for such reasons may still be the clear answer, but leaving with a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a positive attitude is going to help everyone in the end.
Do we need to be more content where God has us? Yes. Do we have to stay at our current ministry post for the rest of our time here on earth? No. Changing positions in ministry isn’t and probably shouldn’t be as easy as it might be in a corporate setting. There’s a calling involved, there are valuable connections to consider, and there’s possible damage to the church and those we minister to that should be taken into consideration.
If you feel the need to make a transition, spend plenty of time in prayer, consider the effect it will have on the church and others, and ensure that you take appropriate steps to leave well. After all, there’s no perfect church and the grass isn’t always greener.
What other questions should job-seekers consider when looking to make a transition?
If you liked this, then you’ll also like 11 Questions To Ask Before Leaving Your Church Staff.