Often, when we move from a full-time ministry career to a secular career, criticism can run wild. It seemed to be the case with me, so I figure it must be the case with others.
When I left the ministry, I decided to leave well and not stir up a hornets nest with anyone in the church or within the leadership team. In doing so, others felt I could (and probably would) step right back into a ministry position somewhere else in or out of the state. But, as I came to realize, that was not the best fit for my family or for myself.
When that choice was made, however, other believers used some cutting words “to critique” and “evaluate my life.” I think they firmly believed, or at least wanted to believe, that because of my decision I must have been away from the Lord. “The offers are there,” I recall someone saying to a friend of mine, “and if he is truly called, he will find where God wants him in ministry.”
But the key is this, I was right where God wanted me and my family – to remain in the area, shift my thinking to reinvent myself, and look for life investment in a new career. What that looked like, I had no idea. What that would feel like, I had no clue. How that would come about, I had no plan. But there was one thing I knew for sure, God had the plan and He would unfold it how He wanted to. I have to admit, it did make me a bit nervous – a tad on edge – but soon I realized I must take action and pursue a variety of possibilities and see how God chose to lead.
After an extended period of time – what seemed like forever – dabbling in the different things, an idea came to me. It was as if a light bulb just clicked on. In all the roles I had tried – financial planning, loading trucks for a parcel delivery service, minor home remodeling, and others – it dawned on me that I was still doing ministry. I just wasn’t getting paid for it. God had opened more opportunities to dialog, discuss, debate, and direct others to evaluate who He is, what He did for mankind, and how He cares about everything within their life than I had personally experienced in a long time.
Their criticism actually became the fuel in my heart which told me to never force someone to listen but rather just be available to listen. It moved me to be open, to understand the business world, and how others view leadership in that world. That light bulb helped me realize that I’m in ministry all the time.
Life is ministry.
Paid ministry was a wonderful journey for me, but the journey that I’m on now is just as full and exciting. It may look different, feel different, but it’s still impacting lives. Often those that criticize want to think their perspective is truth. And those on the receiving end of criticism may cower away from the shared words or perspective or “bow their back ready to fight.” But both individuals are off base. The bottom line is that perspective is not truth and ministry life, in all its varied forms, is meant for each one of us.