By Jared Musgrove
Knowing the right time to step away from a ministry—whether volunteer or vocational—requires wisdom. It’s typically not “if-then-this” but “if-then-else”.
Whether leading a small group, volunteering in a ministry, or pastoring a church, God’s people should consult the Lord, His Scriptures, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and godly counsel from believers who love God and want His best for you.
Some questions to consider in community with God and one another if you are thinking of stepping away from a ministry:
- Have you completed the work that God gave you to do in that place for that time? (John 4:34; Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:7)
- What gives you the biggest thrill right now—to minister to people or to be ministered to? To be associated with “winners” or to serve even if it goes unseen? To rack up “wins” for recognition or to count recognition as loss for Christ’s calling on your life in this ministry? (Mark 10:45)
- Are you running from something or to something? (1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, Revelation 3:8) Has the Holy Spirit closed one door and opened another for effective ministry? (Acts 16:6-10). Would your current church leadership consider this a leaving or a sending?
- Are you persecuted or rejected for your gospel preaching, teaching, and ministry? Or is there mounting adversity or conflict that is not resolved after exhausted efforts? (Acts 15:36-40, Romans 12:18) It may be that you move from your present ministry to another (Matthew 10:14, Luke 10:10-11, Acts 8:1).
- Is the opposition you feel as strong and widespread as it is loud?
- Are you relying on your own power to keep you leading and coming up with ideas, or God’s Holy Spirit? Do you blame others when things don’t go as you’d hoped? What is the overall effect of your leadership on God’s people in your care?
- Are you retaining a following or are you constantly trying to invent new systems to keep or get volunteers, leaders, etc?
- Have you reached the limit of your ministry effectiveness here? Are you willing or not to seek growth, gain new skills, repent, or improve your effectiveness? Do you have the energy or resources to do so here?
- Are you growing spiritually? Are God’s people in your care growing with you? Have you been wholeheartedly devoted to Christ, prayerful, diligent, humble, dignified, godly, and yet your leadership is not being followed? Consider if you are casting pearls to swine; there may not be a response to your spiritual life and ministry (Matthew 7:6).
- What effect is this ministry having on your family? Is your family being adequately cared for? Are your spouse and children growing spiritually? (1 Corinthians 9:4-14, 1 Timothy 5:8, 19).
- Have you fasted, prayed, and sought a word from the Holy Spirit about this? Have you shared and sought counsel with your community, pastor, friends, or mentors? (Acts 13:1-4; Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 20:18, 24:5-6, 27:9)
- Has God given you a vision for a new harvest field? (John 4:35-38)
- Are you using your spiritual gifts where you are serving? Is your heart after God and talents aligning in this role?
- Is this decision being made in isolation? Is it being made when you are awake, calm, well-rested, walking in obedience to God’s Word, and with sobriety?
- Is there something in this role that you don’t want to do or some place you do not want to go in ministry? Are you open to laying down these preferences in order to obey God? Remember Jonah’s call to Nineveh.
Dr. Jared Musgrove is Pastor for Leader Development and Groups at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX.