How to Tell Where God Is Calling You Next
At Vanderbloemen Search Group, we have the privilege of working with many church leaders and church staff members who sense that God is moving them on from their current ministry context. That part is clear to them. But what is sometimes unclear is the place God has in mind for their next season of ministry.
There are some highly interesting verses in Acts 16 involving the Apostle Paul and his ministry team. They had been traveling and ministering through Asia Minor (modern Turkey), and they decided to travel south, but God stopped them. Then they decided to go north, but God stopped them again! Paul must have been discouraged and disappointed.
They had come from the east, so the only direction left to go was west, so they headed that direction until they came to a seaport town called Troas. It was in this town that Paul met a Greek doctor named Luke, who would become Paul’s most faithful partner, and who would also author two of the books of the New Testament. While in Troas Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia (Greece) inviting him to come over there. The team talked it over (the word “concluded” in Acts 16:10 means “to put it all together”) and decided that was what God wanted for their next ministry move. As one preacher said, “It is better to go to Troas with God, than anywhere else without Him.”
What are some takeaways from this section of Scripture that can help guide us in our ministry transitions? Here are a few.
1. Determining your next ministry step is not always easy.
Even the Apostle Paul could be confused about where God wanted him next, so if you are having difficulty determining where God wants you next, you are in good company!
2. God directs through closed doors as well as open ones.
We do not know how or why the Spirit blocked Paul’s path. Be it transportation issues, illness, opposition, a swollen river—we just don’t know. But trust God for the closed doors as well as the open doors.
3. Maybe God has someone else in mind for the place you thought you would go.
We learn in other places in the New Testament that some of the places that God denied Paul were later ministered to by the Apostle Peter. Maybe you are sure that a particular church is where God wants you next, but He has someone else in mind for that role. And he has something else great for you, too.
4. Maybe God has something greater in store than what was in your vision.
Paul followed what God wanted and took the gospel to Europe (even though it was all Roman Empire at that point). Paul did not have in mind to go there; he was driven there by closed doors! Then Europe ended up being the continent that was primarily responsible for sending the message of Christ to North America, Africa and Asia. How would world history have changed if Paul had refused God’s open door?
What are some other takeaways from Paul’s experience with closed and open doors?
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