What I learned while waiting on the Lord

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“Snap out of it!”

My wife’s loving rebuke hit me like a ton of bricks. For six months, I had nursed a sense of self-pity over my inability to land a role as a lead pastor. In my mind, I was completely prepared to transition from a support role to a lead role on a church staff, but after sending out 25 resumes, I was a mess.

My wife’s tough love brought me back to reality and began a learning process that helped me land my dream job. Here’s what I learned while I waited on the Lord to open that door:

Get clarity

It’s tempting to jump at the first ministry opportunity that comes your way and apply for every opening that pops up on the ministry job boards, but before you submit your resume, you should clarify your calling. Write out your ministry philosophy, identify your spiritual gifts, and settle key theological convictions. As much as possible, clarify what kind of ministry God is calling you to do. Is He calling you to plant or revitalize? Has He gifted you to preach or serve in other areas of ministry? Is He calling you to an urban, suburban, or rural context? One of my mentors put it like this: “If you could do anything that would maximize your joy and God’s glory, what would it be?”

Pursue character

As you wait for your next ministry assignment, relentlessly pursue godly character. After all, the New Testament teaches us character is the most important qualification for church leaders (1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:6–9). Recent history warns us of the peril of church leaders allowing their giftedness to take them further than their character can keep them. Only God knows what kind of conflict or obstacles you will face when you begin your new work. It could be that, in His kindness, He is preventing you from taking on a new role before you’re ready. Get honest with yourself and God about your character deficiencies and seek the spiritual transformation you hope to bring to others.

Find a coach

Don’t seek out a coach for their network or the opportunities you think they might bring your way. Instead, look for someone who can help clarify how God has gifted you and identify blind spots in your life. You may already have a trusted pastor in your life who would be more than willing to meet with you for lunch at least once a month. Show up with questions and take notes. Tell your mentor how you believe God works in your life and ask him to pray with you about your next steps. If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable asking to lunch, consider joining the Young Pastors Network cohort.

Make connections

Since many churches call pastors based on recommendations from people they trust, landing a new ministry role can often come down to who you know. You must develop connections with pastors and ministry leaders in your area and across the state. You can do this by attending local association meetings or the Empower and Equip conferences and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Annual Meeting. Introduce yourself to guys you don’t know and ask them questions about their ministries. You may meet someone who knows of a ministry opportunity that would be a good fit for you or that God will use to bring further clarity to your life.

Learn contentment

It’s easy to fantasize about a new role that fits your gifts, but that kind of discontentment undermines our ministries by keeping us from the good work God has called us to do where we are. If we believe God is sovereign over our ministry calling, we should strive to be faithful wherever He plants us. Jesus sees the faithful ministry of men who are content to serve where He calls them and promises to reward those who prove faithful. He put it like this: “One who is faithful in a very little will also be entrusted with much” (Luke 16:10). Before you start to look ahead to what may come next, give yourself completely to serving the Lord right where you are.

After my wife confronted me about my selfishness, the Lord taught me these lessons the hard way. Brothers, if God can help a guy like me, I know he can do it for you, too.

Senior Pastor
Brad Mills
Central Baptist Church, Luling
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