Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 4:17)
The end of 2009 is now upon us and as we look back on this year in the church there have been many challenges. The economic downturn this year has created a general malaise throughout the country and it is not surprising this can affect the church as well. We were saddened by those who lost jobs and consequently left the area seeking other employment. It is our natural reaction to be frustrated and disappointed when such things happen, but it can also be God’s will that those who have been taught correct doctrine should move out into other areas where they can be an influence on another church or community that needs good solid biblical teaching. This could be the Lord’s will if that person has in the past genuinely applied himself to Bible study and has shown a desire to share his knowledge and teach others.
I am afraid that in most moves this is not really the consideration. Rather, the economic opportunity presents itself and Christians pick up and go with little consideration for the way it will affect their families spiritually. I have met with many people who have said, “I believe it is the Lord’s will for me to leave,” when I know from observing their spiritual lives they are not really in a position to discern the Lord’s will. When someone is ready to move and they have not brought the matter to the pastor and the church for prayer, both their motives and their discernment are suspect.
I do not believe it is the pastor’s job to determine the Lord’s will for another person. The Lord is well capable of revealing His will to His children without an intermediary. Pastors who seek to do more are little different from priests who pass on “blessings” and grant absolution from sin. However, a pastor may observe a person’s life, help them pray about their decisions, and then give advice based upon already established principles of God’s word. A good pastor is generally apprised of the spiritual welfare of the flock and can help guide when members are confused.
As we look at the economic difficulties encountered this year, we must not panic when resources are low and take it as an automatic sign that God is moving us on. I do not believe that God moves anyone for a paycheck alone. If you are in a good church that preaches the truth and enables you to grow spiritually, don’t trade it for a new area where there is uncertainty and where you know your main purpose is the paycheck and not helping others realize the truths you have learned. God will sustain you where He wants you. Discerning His will is not so difficult when you evaluate your true motives.
Pastor V. Mark Smith