Changing Careers

Dan Davidson There is one question that pastors do not like to talk about much. In fact, some don't believe it is even theologically valid to ask it. Should I change careers?

It is true that God calls many people into pastoral ministry for the remainder of their lives. However, it is also true that God calls many people into pastoral ministry for a while.

I've found that this issue of changing careers is usually one of the hardest we ever have to deal with as pastors. There is something mystical about a call to ministry, something divinely satisfying and fulfilling, something humanly grand and prestigious, something proud. It is very difficult to "leave" that behind. In fact, such a decision is usually accompanied by a sense of shame and deep failure by the pastor and one of disappointment by family and friends.

But that should not be. There is no shame in heeding God's call to a new type of ministry or a new obedience in some other field. In fact, conversely, there should be shame associated with ignoring such a call. There is danger in someone remaining in pastoral ministry after God has called him elsewhere. First, his ministry will diminish in effectiveness, often hurting God's people more than helping them. Second, the work God wants him to be doing in the new area of calling will not be accomplished. Third, his disobedience will create a rift between him and God.

I am not advocating that pastors should consider a career change if things get frustrating or bleak. If God wants you there, he will comfort you and guide you to new excitement and blessings. If you don't hear him calling you to leave, stay and "bloom where you're planted."

But if God is calling you to move on from pastoral ministry to some other form of service, don't be ashamed or feel like a failure. Consider it an honor to have served in that capacity for a while and to now be needed by your Lord in another effort. Hold your head up high and obey with enthusiasm and anticipation. Great things lie ahead!

Taken from Pastor to Pastor newsletter, Jul/Aug 1999.
Article copyright © 1999, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Rev. Dan Davidson directs the Pastoral Resources and Technology departments in the Pastoral Ministries division at Focus on the Family, which includes serving as editorial director of the Pastor to Pastor audio series, The Pastor's Weekly Briefing e-mail and Web newsletter, The Shepherd's Covenant Encourager e-mail and Web newsletter, and the Parsonage Web site itself. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., with his wife, Luz, and their three sons.