When I was given the opportunity to serve another term with a ministry which has over the last 2 years grown close to my heart, I asked this question: what is the difference between becoming faithful and remaining stagnant?
I expect many people serving have encountered this dilemma in one form or another. Is this where God wants me to be? Are my gifts being used? Am I growing? Is Christ being exalted?
I don’t want to do just for the sake of doing. Nothing of value comes from that and nobody grows. It’s like going to the gym and reorganizing the weight the room – were you at the gym, yes; were you lifting weights, technically – but was that actually a workout? Probably not. There was no intentionality, no measured goal, no tracking of improvement.
Our spiritual life is not so different. The sole purpose of spiritual disciplines is to practice our intentionality with Christ. While it may come across as legalistic in some respects, our spiritual growth can be measured; namely by our reactions to circumstances and trials. We can watch our maturity improve as Christ moves from the peripheral of our life’s direction to his rightful place as our Northern Star.
But all this said, sometimes the best decision we can make in care of our spiritual development is to go.
The what, where and how questions of a move all have so many individual factors attached to them it’s difficult to pull out clear principles to follow – I’m sure overtime I will begin to see these more clearly, and if you have insight about these as they pertain to moving I would love to hear your wisdom.
Of the many questions floating around in my head, I have had the most help answering these two: the why and when. Hopefully what I learned can be of help to you too.
To better understand when, my pastor explained a profoundly simple illustration.
Have you ever transplanted a flower? In the garden the flower has had a chance to dig roots and the soil has made a home for it. If you want to move the flower it would be harmful just to grab it by the stem and try to yank it up, plus the roots would fight back. The better way is to first loosen the soil around the flower. Pull it back and dig around. The roots will slowly become exposed and after a little while the flower will come up much easier and in one piece.
In most cases, if you want to move wisely then you must move slowly. Loosen the soil before trying to pull up the roots. You want a healthy plant in the new location, not a tattered thing. So if God may be leading you to move, pay attention to the soil – is it being shifted, are your roots being exposed? Then prepare yourself to follow. But if they are not, if the soil is still in place and the roots stuck deep – then perhaps the best course would be to evaluate why you might want to leave – what staying is not offering and is that factor changeable?
Answering the why brings us back to the first question: what is the difference between becoming faithful and remaining stagnant?
Again my pastors offered incredible advice. Here is a summary of their two main points.
On the outside faithfulness and stagnation can look a lot alike. In both cases there is a visible consistency. But the difference lies on the inside. What is your relationship with Jesus doing in these cases? If you are faithful, the relationship is progressing, deepening and motivating. If you are stagnant, the relationship has dried up or disappeared; it’s no longer your source for staying, instead comfort is.
You will know a plant by its fruit. If you are faithful, God is still using you in the place he has you and he has a reason for you being there. You and others are growing from the ministry (or whatever else it is you may be a part of) and it is time well spent. If you are stagnant, the fruit has dried up. Little more than status quo is being accomplished, if that, and it has become a waste of time.
When searching your heart for the why ask these questions: Will my relationship with Christ grow or suffer if I stay? If I leave?
Is there fruit coming out of my place or my work? If there isn’t, why not?
I hope these few words encourage those of you in the midst of a transition or are about to embark on one. For those of you who have made big transitions – in geography, career, or ministry – what are some things you learned from your experience?
And for those on the edge of one, what is the biggest thing keeping you from making the move?