In my last post, I wrote about the minuses (negatives) associated with ministry-related moves. But there are many merits (positives) to these moves. So today, I share some of those benefits:
1. Being in God’s will.
Throughout the Bible, we see God calling people to go and do something new for Him in a brand-new location. He continues to call people to make similar moves today. If indeed God is leading you to serve in a new part of the country or the world, the very best thing you can do–and the only way to be in God’s will–is to go where He leads.
2. The things you learn.
This is a big one. Each time God has brought us to another place to serve, there have been specific spiritual lessons He has taught us there that we would not have learned in the same way elsewhere. As a worship leader, I’ve also experienced churches with different stylistic leanings–traditional, southern gospel, contemporary–and together we have grown in a deeper understanding of worship. Like school, God has built upon all of these lessons as He leads from one season to the next. In fact, although school is extremely valuable, these lessons in real-world ministry have proven even more vital.
3. The people.
God expands your circle of friends, many of whom become more like family. Because of the places we’ve been privileged to serve, we have so many more people whose friendships we cherish with whom we have celebrated, mourned, laughed, cried, prayed, and worshiped. When our children received Christ as Savior and Lord, people from all over rejoiced with us. When we have needed prayer, our circle of prayer warriors is large and dedicated. Our lives are richer for these relationships.
4. Understanding cultural differences.
We are originally from the South, and all of the churches we have served have been in the South or Southwest. But even so, it has been eye-opening to see the cultural differences from one place to another. One of the more obvious ways to see this is in food. I grew up with soul food: greens, pinto beans, fried potatoes, fried everything; and barbecue always meant pork. In Arkansas, we were introduced to kolaches and hot water cornbread, and barbecue meant brisket. Brisket was also a mainstay in Texas, and it was there that we discovered the wonders of Tex-Mex. Now in Florida, we are learning to love tuna dip, cheese grits, and bay scallops.
The food difference are fun and easy to see, but there are other differences. In each community you find slightly different perspectives on politics, religion, work ethic, and what community looks like. When we live only in one place, we sometimes come to think that everyone everywhere thinks like “we” do. Living in other communities challenges those assumptions and causes us to more closely examine what we think, what we do, and why we do the things we do.
5. It strengthens your family.
The previous post talked about the difficulties for both immediate and extended family when you are called to live apart. But there are also benefits. Living away from our families has caused Laura and me and our children to depend on each other more than we would have otherwise. When your spouse and your kids are the only family you have for hundreds of miles or more, it gives you a deeper appreciation for them. Over time, you also gain a deeper appreciation for your extended family, and the visits with them become more meaningful. Sure, you miss out on free babysitting and lots of mom’s and grandma’s cooking, but if God has called you to live away from your family, trust that He has a growth experience in it for everyone involved.
There are pluses and minuses to ministry-related moves. There are some very good parts, and some very hard parts. But that’s true of life whether it involves moving or not. So don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from following God’s call to a new place of service. The future is always an unknown, but it’s much better to walk into that future knowing you’re exactly where God wants you to be.