This week is about finishing well. During different seasons of your life, you may feel drawn to, or called to, different forms of ministry. If you look closely, however, you may find that all of them share a broader focus. For example, I believe that I have a calling in my life to develop Christian leaders within the church. Right now, that takes the shape of ministry at Overflow. One day, it may take the shape of a position within the denomination, working with other pastors, or it could mean training missionaries on cultural awareness. I would see each of these as consistent with God’s calling in my life. So, how do I know when it is time to transition from one to another?
The answer is simple, you have to complete the mission you were called to complete. To do this, you need to be confident that you have understood God’s calling, working through the process, starting all the way back from our first blog on Hearing the Call. You may have heard an end state when you were originally called to do a job. (Ex. “Byron, start Overflow, get it into a long-term facility, and hand it over to the right person.”) When you have completed everything that you were given, it is time to move on.
Other times, the calling does not come with a terminal task. (“Byron, serve the students of the Tiffin area.”) When this is what your calling sounds like, leaving a posting does not come with the same degree of certainty. This is what we will address with the rest of this blog. For simplicity’s sake, I will present two possibilities.
First, you may come to the clear conclusion that you have been called to something else. This does not necessarily mean another ministry. God could be telling you that it is time for you to step back, to take a knee. Moses was called to hand over leadership of Israel, with no future position. He did not just die, which would have removed the pressure of being obedient. He knew that he was to give Joshua the reigns. Or, there could be a different position waiting for you. You have been serving faithfully at a company, but God has called you to His service through another position.
Second, it may become evident that the mission has ended, even if you are still trying to fight through it. Many congregations have experienced a full life cycle. Even when there are some who are still holding onto the idea of keeping the church afloat, attendance, finance, and other factors have led to doors closing. In cases like this, it is important to remember that a closed door does not mean that the mission failed. That season may have ended, and you may not see the fruit of your obedience, but it is God’s mission, and He has already worked it together for the good!
In both cases, finishing well means acknowledging that God is in control, and not fighting Him for the reins. It means being able to walk away from a position you may love, or one that you were serving well. It may also mean leaving on someone else’s terms. In order to finish well, you must surrender your own path to God’s will. We all get possessive of our callings, and that leads to the illusion that something is ours. God is in control, and our job is obedience, not ownership. Undoubtedly, finishing a job can leave you with a “what’s next?” kind of feeling. Be patient and wait on the Lord.
Finally, I would encourage you not to hunt for an ending to where you are. Most of the mistakes I have witnessed when it comes to a calling have been the result of someone trying to find the calling, instead of simply listening for God’s voice. The same is true for those in times of transition. When you force the change, you are more likely to do your will than God’s. Do the last thing you were called to do. Don’t look for a change just because you are restless.
It has been a pleasure walking through the process of obedience to God’s calling. I pray that you each hear clearly, respond well, and finish strong.
Next week we will launch our series on Church Hunting.
Pastor Byron Denman