Baptists/discerning God's will
I don't know if you can give me an answer but I don't have anywhere else to turn. I am a pastor of 34 years experience. I am a year and a half from retirement. I have been at my current church for 14 years and have been very frustrated. The church has lots of young kids and is growing but there is so much dissension and fighting and I feel it would be better to leave. I have been interviewing at another church and they want me to come. I believe I could give them 5 years before I would have to retire. But it is halfway across the country away from my family and they all think it is stupid at my age to take that call. I have to discern the Lord's will and I want to let it up to that church that wants me but I don't know if that is the correct way. I don't want my will I want God's will but I don't know how to discern it. Do you have any ideas?
Thank you for your question. As an experienced Pastor I am sure you know what the issues are as well as I do but I am more than happy to help you in your considerations. I am English and Pastor in England but the principles you are looking at are the same wherever we minister. I am also not too far from retirement (3 years) so I can empathise with you in some ways.
Whenever we are under pressure in ministry (and one church I pastored came close to finishing me off) it is hard to keep hold of what we know to be true.
Amongst other things we are called to shepherd the flock and hard as it is the first question should always be 'what is best for the church?'
If you genuinely believe that you no longer have the emotional resources to tackle the underlying problems in your current church then perhaps someone who can face up to the challenge should be allowed to try. On the other hand if you feel you have sufficient resilience then maybe you are best placed to tackle the problems head on. If you did whoever takes over from you will owe you a debt of gratitude. If you decide to stay then to preach for the next year on nothing but reconciliation and love in the family of God would make sense to me. Coasting through your last 18 months may seem an option but I have always been a believer that as Pastors we can never coast along.
If you do not have the emotional resilience to continue then either you make the move that is on offer (though the grass is not always as green as it looks on the other side) or you enter into serious discussions with your church about the possibility of you retiring early.
All that I have shared is, I believe, a right way to think but in the end you need to hear God and know peace about what you believe is His way forward. That needs to happen away from the pressures and I would encourage you to find the space for a two day retreat just to seek him and His way.
I am fully aware that I have given you no absolute answers. I cannot because God must lead you but I hope some of my comments have been helpful and I will pray for you over the next few days that you may know God's way forward.