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  • Writer's pictureDavid Peppler, Sr.

The Timing of Pastoral Transitions

How do I know if and when it is time to transition in my ministry? Pastors and other ministry leaders often ask me this question. How do you know? There are a thousand different questions that come with this as well, dealing with guilt, God's movement, horrific circumstances, boredom, anger, and much more.

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

The above or other causal factors can lead to a ministerial transition. While I do not wish to discuss any of those issues here, I want to address their effects on the leader wondering if it is time to move on.

Ideally, the stirring in your soul should outweigh any bothersome circumstances. That is kumbaya material, which we always hope will be the case. Many times, that is precisely what happens. The easy answer to the question is to wait until you sense the leadership of the Holy Spirit, which gives you a sense of restlessness and desire for new or other things or places to serve. This is always best.

Be very aware of your internal compass and thermostat. For this post, I will focus on God's tugging at your heart. I have told many leaders over the years that the best time to transition is when you feel God is pulling you and nothing else is pushing you. God will place desires in your heart that indicate it might be time to explore other options. There may be other considerations, such as family income needs, but more often than not, it is something that you feel almost intuitively. Something needs to change. It is a positive change that will lead to good results. You cannot define it, but senses are part of what God has in store for you.

This is an exciting time, even though it requires a lot of prayerful discernment. God won't roll out red carpets anywhere and say, "Go here to serve next." But you will feel a sense of peace even while discovering what the stirring in your soul is all about.

Take this time to work on your connection with God. The whisper of the still, small voice is best heard in close proximity. Take intentional time to be alone with the Lord. Journal. Pray. Listen to God speak to you through scripture, your family, friends, others, and maybe even nature. The key word here is "listen."

From the Coach:

  • How do you distinguish God's from the other voices that speak to your heart?

  • What can you do to draw nearer to God today?

  • What clutter in your mind needs to be removed to hear God more clearly?

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