I recently talked with a young man, who was ready for his first full-time worship leading gig. He has a great heart and a load of musical talent. He actually had several churches that wanted him. His final choice wasn’t the most attractive of the offers. It would mean several years of hard work to bring the church to a point of embracing a truly contemporary style of worship.
This was a church where he was already a part-time worship leader. They were willing to bring him on full-time if he added student ministries to his responsibilities. This is what he said to me, “I feel like I’m not done with what God called me to do here. I would be betraying their trust if I left. This ministry is hard . . . if I have to do another ’90’s worship song. . .! But there are things that God wants me to learn here.”
Not only was I proud of him (He was a former student of mine), but he caused me to reflect on my journey. My first worship ministry was in a medium size church that was going through a difficult transition in leadership and worship styles. I stayed there for seven years, passing up at least three serious offers to leave. Although I couldn’t see the reasons for staying at the time, it is clear to me now.
Here are 3 reasons to stay where you are:
- Be faithful in the little things. The ministry fruitfulness you enjoy in your 40’s and 50’s is a result of your faithfulness in the little things in your 20’s and 30’s. That’s just the way God works. We hear stories of people who jumped into a high pressure, visible ministry straight out of college, but those are the exceptions. I did a lot of stupid things early in my ministry. Fortunately, those mistakes didn’t affect thousands of people, because God was having me serve out of the spotlight. As restless as you may feel right now, learn what you can where you are. Fifteen years from now, you will be glad you were faithful where you are today.
- Remember – bigger isn’t better. It’s just bigger! I’ve been there. Ministry is hard no matter where you are. But a bigger church tends to bring bigger headaches. In order to deal with the tougher problems, you must have solved smaller problems along the way. A fascinating and controversial book by Joel Gregory, former preacher at First Baptist Church in Dallas, titled Too Great a Temptation, is a great read. It definitely strips away the high-gloss of working in a large church. If God has a wider audience and greater influence in your future, he will prepare you for that by forging your character in your younger years. There are no shortcuts.
- If God wants you to move, he will let you know. He’s not going to keep it a secret from you. I served in a church for a few years where I felt like I was on the edge of the world. I thought that God forgot about me. What if I stayed here the rest of my life? I didn’t think that I would survive. Well, God knew what my family and I needed. We burned out from our previous ministry and needed some time to heal. The church allowed us to do that. After three years, God decided he wanted to move me again and he made it very obvious.
I’m not saying that God isn’t telling you to move on to another ministry. But in the midst of what may seem like a wasteland, God is doing an invisible work in you that will pay off in great fruitfulness later in your life. You can trust Him!
What about you? What lessons have you learned by staying where you are?