Trusting in the God of New Beginnings in Ministry
In anticipation of our annual conference in October, we will be offering monthly articles that center on this year’s theme, The Promises of God. Now more than ever, when there seems to be no solid ground beneath our feet, we stand on the promises of God. In Christ we receive a new heart and a new spirit, becoming citizens of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Join us at Rooted 2021 as we celebrate the One whose promises to us are trustworthy and true: For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)
Every day is an invitation to begin again. As our eyes open to a new day, God invites us to walk with Him, experience His grace, and journey closer to Him through this walk of sanctification – the Holy Spirit’s birthing of new beginnings in us.
For many of us (especially 3s on the Enneagram), the thought of our lack of control in life is horrifying. We want to plan our own schedules, write our own stories, and craft our own path, but sometimes, God invites us into moments of complete trust in Him and His plan.
One of those times of trust is when God closes a door on a season of ministry. When I was a student pastor, I believed God would have me in that particular ministry for my entire career. I believed my giftedness and passion best fit in the context of student ministry. I believed the church where I was serving would be the church I would serve for many years. But God likes to challenge our own beliefs and invite us on a journey of trust walking closely with Him.
Transitions in ministry are never fun because in order to be a good youth minister, you relationally invest yourself in a people. You spend time praying for them, walking alongside them, crying with them in their grief, and celebrating with them in their joys. Part of your heart and soul becomes connected to a church, a people, and a group of students. You truly become family as the Scriptures picture.
To leave and transition in ministry truly feels like a death. Relationships don’t look the way that they used to. Your church community is ripped away. Your ministry investment becomes stewarded by someone else, who may or may not approach ministry the same way you would. It is a funeral. You, your role, and your ministry have come to a point of death.
In these moments of death, whether it was your decision to make a move, or a move was forced by someone else, you grieve. Walking into a new ministry is walking into a room of strangers while the memories of past family ring in your head. Walking into a season of looking for what’s next becomes a challenge to your trust in God as you wonder if He is done with you and what He may have for the road before you.
In Isaiah 43:18-19, the prophet paints a picture of God’s faithfulness in new beginnings:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people.” (ESV)
Isaiah calls the people to take their eyes off the rearview mirror. God has done great things in the past for which we should give Him praise, but the past should not be a point of comparison to the present. God is birthing something new. He is opening the door to a season. He is writing the next chapter to our story. Because of the gospel, we know that story is one of resurrection as we follow Jesus, who brought life out of death.
The prophet points to the in-between time of waiting – between God’s faithfulness in past ministry and anticipation for His faithfulness in future ministry. Like any time of waiting, the in-between is a time when we often feel like we are lost. Isaiah uses the image of being lost in a desert. We are thirsty. We feel lost. We wait for God’s provision.
Though we may feel lost, God’s faithfulness to us as His people doesn’t change. Jesus has proven His ultimate faithfulness to us at the cross. We can trust Him when we feel like we are walking our own wilderness road. He has not forgotten about us. He is not neglecting our needs. He sees us in the desert, invites us to hang on to trust Him, and calls us to look for the river of new direction coming.
God is the Author of our stories, and the One who leads us from one chapter into the next. As each one of us experiences transition in our ministries over time, we must remember God’s faithfulness in the past. In the desert of the in-between, we must look for His provision and trust that He stands as sovereign and is doing a new thing. God is faithful to His promises and will be faithful to us.