Career Education Life

Leaving Ministry Work to Answer God’s Call

For a lot of us, COVID-19 appeared, at first glance, to have crushed our commitments, careers, and callings. Many of the activities and aspirations that brought purpose and meaning to our lives came to a screeching halt almost overnight with the onset of the pandemic. For many, the dreams and plans we had for our lives died. All of a sudden we had to think of a new kind of life—one we didn’t necessarily imagine. And a lot of us, if we’re honest, felt hopeless and helpless. Maybe you’re one of those people. You might think your dreams are shattered. You might think your hopes are dashed. You might think your career is ruined. But no matter where you’re at, the amazing news is that God is in the business of helping you redefine your life, expand your imagination about what it looks like to serve him, and open up new possibilities for your career and calling. He specializes in giving you a fresh start and a new beginning. I believe he can do that for you after this global pandemic. 

When the pandemic hit, I was in the process of transitioning out of full-time vocational ministry into a career in business. It was scary. I had spent my whole life preparing to be a pastor, but God was asking me to trust him with something new. It was a time of many unknowns and great uncertainty. But rather than crushing my career and calling, God used the timing of the pandemic to create the conditions for a whole new way of life to be born in me. Rather than totally freaking out (which I did at various points), I chose to have faith. By God’s grace, I trusted that he would provide the right job for me, and he did. I’ve been in this new career now for almost a year, and I love it. But it wasn’t easy to get to this point. God had to teach me some lessons about new beginnings along the way. And it’s those lessons I want to share with you as you attempt to navigate life after the pandemic. 

Focus on Jesus Not the Fresh Start.

This may sound counter intuitive, but focusing on the fresh start (that new job or career or whatever new place you’re heading) will only stress you out. Trust me—I know from experience. It is very overwhelming to start a new job or career when you feel underprepared and underqualified. I felt overwhelmed when I interviewed for a new job in sales. I lacked any business education or sales experience to prove that I was qualified for the job. All I had was my service to the church and my seminary degrees. I found the more I focused on my deficiencies, the more I saw impossibilities. Would I be able to start a new career with so little going for me? The prospect of excelling at something I knew next to nothing about just didn’t seem possible.

But by slowly shifting my focus on Jesus and away from all that I thought I lacked, I was able to trade my fears for faith. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I asked Him to help me see how my past experiences in ministry could provide new possibilities in business. I asked Him to give me the right job that would maximize my talents and give me the freedom to serve the church. And guess what? When I set my eyes on Jesus and His accomplishments rather than my (lack of) accomplishments, He opened the doors for me and provided the perfect job. As you aspire to try something new, focus on Jesus, first. Ask Him to help you find that job or career that is just right for you.

Find People Who Can Help You.

After focusing on Jesus, you need to find people who know you and love you. This is especially true when making big life decisions or when those decisions are forced upon you. It’s because people who know us and love us can speak into our lives and help guide us as we attempt to navigate uncharted territory. Proverbs 15:22 says “plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisers they succeed.” I can honestly say I could not have made the decision to leave ministry without the help of wise men and women around me confirming that it was the right decision. I also would not have gotten a job without some of my close friends opening the doors for me. We need other people who love Jesus and love us to help us make a successful fresh start. So ask yourself: “who are the people in my life who can help me as I attempt to venture into something new?”. Once you’ve identified those people, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help!

 “I couldn’t imagine what life would be like if I wasn’t doing ministry. My mindset was stuck in a limited understanding of what it meant to serve God.”

Transform Your Thinking about Your and Calling.

For years, I thought I would only be happy doing full-time vocational ministry. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like if I wasn’t doing ministry. My mindset was stuck in a limited understanding of what it meant to serve God. But God wants us to have a holistic understanding when it comes to serving him with our life and vocation. Changing our thinking and getting the right understanding starts with God’s word. Reading the word expands your mind and imagination, and as a result, you can enjoy God in more creative and life-giving ways in your work, ministry, and play. Scripture also talks a great deal about transforming your mentality (Romans 12:2). It is so important to transform your thinking about what constitutes a career and calling that will make you “happy.” You might not even be scratching the surface of the deep joy and satisfaction God has in store for you. Try this: Ask God to open your mind to consider new possibilities (school, career, ministries) which will unleash and expand all your latent creativity and potential. 

Trust that God Knows what He’s Doing.

The Bible tells us that we are God’s “masterpiece” and that he has planned good things for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). I have found that God tends to know what will make us flourish and come alive far better than we do. And for us to experience what we were created for, we must let go of the old and trust God with the new. I needed to let go of my vision of full-time ministry to experience a whole new life and calling in business. And when I did, God showed me what I was created for and capable of. Are you holding on to an old vision of your life? Your career? Your calling? What would it look like for you to let those go and trust God with an entirely new vision for you? You are God’s “masterpiece.” Will you trust him with all the “good things” he has in store for your life?

God knows what he’s doing. He designed you. He has a plan and purpose for you. Maybe you have been trying to live a life you think will make you happy and it just isn’t working. Have you considered that maybe the pandemic puts you in a perfect position to trust God with something new? “I am doing a new thing,” God says in Isaiah. Will you let him do something new in you after the pandemic? Or better yet, right now? Will you trust him with a fresh start and new beginning? Will you rest assured that God knows what he’s doing in you? My prayer for you is that you will.