As you may know I have been seeking my next ministry position. I felt God leading me to resign my position at my current church. You can read that story HERE. I felt certain that God had me do this in preparation for a full-time ministry position. So, I did just what anyone would do. I updated my resume. I started searching online for open positions that fit my expertise. I reached out to my network to inquire about open positions. Oh, and I prayed a little along the way. As I look back now I realize how foolish I was being. Let me explain.
As I went through this process I found myself repeatedly frustrated. It seemed that most positions required a seminary degree, or at least a Bible degree of some sort. Or, they wanted 3-5 years of full-time ministry in a church of a certain size. Each time I came across one of those adds I would get all super spiritual and think how little faith they were displaying in considering only these criteria in their search. As one church after another ignored my resume, without even contacting me I grew ever more frustrated and angry. Several churches did take the time to contact me, only to get part way through the process and cut me loose. In my mind this happened because I didn’t have the credentials that I mentioned before. Through this process I often became very angry at these churches and their people. I was quickly moving towards bitterness because of my experiences. This is where I need to apologize:
To all the people and churches I have communicated with during my search, I’m sorry.
These churches probably had no idea the degree of frustration and anger I felt, but I did. I was quick to judge them based on how worldly their mindset was and how little faith was involved in their search. I had judged these people that I had never met and knew nothing about as somehow less mature Christians than me. The truth is that many churches take a very worldly approach to searching for new staff. They require things like a seminary degree or previous experience at similar organizations. These are the same kinds of things that corporate America looks for when searching for new staff and leaders. I found this mentality within most search committees to be very frustrating and I judged their faith and maturity based solely on this. Then it hit me:
I was doing the same thing!
You see if I were seeking a position at any other company I would make sure my resume was up to date. I would begin a search for open positions within my specialty. I would reach out to some of the people in my network to see if they knew of any positions that I might be a good fit for. This is a perfectly logical progression if I were searching for a position in a regular company. AND, this is exactly what I did with my search for where God was leading me. The very things I was angry with these churches for, I was doing. The very mindset that I was judging and condemning these churches for, I was also guilty of. I would regularly talk about how God had a plan for me and about how I was trusting him. Then I would come home from work EVERY DAY and check the various church job sites. At least once a week I was sending my resume out, and usually more times than that. Without exaggeration I have probably sent my resume to nearly 100 different churches.
I made the process about ME!
I did all the things that seemed logical when searching for a new ministry position. Even as I talked about how much I was trusting God, I really wasn’t. I was seeking my own direction and hoping that God would bless it. I had selected my own path and then asked God to go ahead of me and make the path clear. How foolish I was. If I truly believe that God has a plan for my life, as I have often said, then maybe I should go to HIM to discover that plan. So, over the past week or so I have taken a new direction in my search for God’s direction. I am done sending out my resume unsolicited, at least for a season. I will still send it to anyone who asks for it, but I’m not checking church job sites. Rather I’m seeking Gods direction. When it comes to my ministry the only thing that I have ever been truly sure of is that God called me to ministry. This I KNOW. However, I have never really known exactly what that was supposed to look like. At each point in my ministry I have followed where God led me. That is how I will progress from here.
My brother once told me, “full time ministry may not look like what you think it looks like.” Having grown up in the church, the son of a pastor in my mind full time ministry looked like what my dad did. It meant working full time for a local church. This may still be God’s plan for me, but it may not be. For now I wait, I pray, and I study to see where God might be pointing me. I will look for what God is doing in and around me and I will seek to get on board with that. I will trust HIM to show me what HIS plan is for my life and my ministry.Matt Norman
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