7 Things to Consider When God Calls Your Beloved Pastor to Another Ministry

Over the years of my ministry, I’ve often grieved deeply when God called one of our church’s pastoral staff members to another ministry. As a professor, I’ve lamented again when God called any of my leaders to serve elsewhere. To be honest, I much prefer weeping over a departure of someone I love rather than rejoicing over the loss of someone I struggle with loving – but I’ve had to learn how to trust God when He calls a beloved leader to another place of service. Here’s what I’ve learned that helps me now: 

  1. I’m much more selfish than I like to admit. I like things to stay the same, and I don’t like disruptions to the routine of life. That’s one reason I grieve as I do—and my response reflects my self-centeredness.
  2. I really do want my pastors and seminary leaders to follow God completely, even if that calling moves them away. I know that intellectually and spiritually; I’ve had to learn to trust that fact emotionally. One of the reasons I follow my leaders is precisely because they obey God at all costs. 
  3. God always has a plan, and it’s always best to be in the center of His will. Again, I know that—but I sometimes need a reminder when I’m wrapped up in the emotions of an unexpected transition. Both my leaders and our church will be in a better place if we’re all trusting and following the Lord. 
  4. I may not be able to stop my grieving, but I can certainly halt any emotionally-driven, guilt-directed responses toward leaders following God. I pray I don’t respond that way, but I’ve seen it happen—almost as if we can “guilt” others into staying with us when it’s not God’s plan in the first place. That’s sinful. 
  5. Even for leaders excited about God’s next steps for them, departing people they love is still hard, too. I’ve learned that reality when I’ve been the one the Lord has called to a new place. It’s exciting and agonizing, thrilling and frightening, exhilarating and painful at the same time. I need to remember the emotions of others more than my own emotions when God calls someone elsewhere. 
  6. My best option is to love these leaders, thank them for their service, and help make their transition as strong and God-honoring as possible. In no way should I make their departure more difficult. In fact, I show more about my own sinfulness than about them if I do. 
  7. A ministry transition for a beloved pastor is an opportunity for me to pray for God to extend His glory through the ongoing witness of our church. Much like God calls out missionaries we send overseas, He calls leaders to serve in other places. In both cases, the light of the gospel extends from our congregation—and that’s a great thing, even when it hurts. 

What have you learned about “letting go” of a beloved pastor?  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.