Two well-known megachurches in Korea recently invited 1.5-generation Korean-American pastors to succeed their retiring pastors. This seems to have shocked the members of the churches at which the pastors were currently serving.
Many large churches, when their pastors retire, recruit pastors who used to serve in those churches as assistant pastors to succeed them. Most of them accept the invitations, immediately leaving the churches they’re at. They may do this out of respect for the retiring pastors or because they love their former churches. I understand their reasons, but I can’t help but feel sorry for the members of their current churches who suddenly lose their pastor.
Personally, I believe that pastors should never leave their churches for larger or better churches unless they’re absolutely confident that they’ve completed their work at the churches they’re at.
Many years ago, when I was serving as a Minister of Education, a pastor of a large church personally contacted me and asked for my resume. He told me that he was about to retire and was seriously considering me as his successor. I refused his request because I had no intentions of leaving the church at which I was serving at the time. I felt that my church still needed me.
My refusal seemed to motivate him because it’s rare for an assistant pastor to pass up an opportunity to become a senior pastor of a well-known church like his. He pursued me even more actively, but I didn’t change my mind, because I strongly believed that I shouldn’t leave my church as long as it needed me.
Years later, when I was invited to become the senior pastor of Seoul Baptist Church, I accepted the invitation without reservation because I felt like my work at my church had been completed and that my presence there might make the senior pastor uncomfortable. Looking back, I feel like Seoul Baptist was God’s reward for rightly refusing the opportunity to become a senior pastor years earlier.
Servants don’t decide where to serve or what to do. They go wherever their Lord asks them to go and do whatever their Lord asks them to do. The same goes for servants of God. It’s not up to them to decide where to serve and what to do. It’s up to God.
Christians aren’t just servants of the Lord but are also His soldiers. Soldiers don’t leave the battlefield, no matter how bad the situation, unless their commander orders them to leave. So Christians shouldn’t quit their ministries no matter how hard they are unless God tells them to. For servants of the Lord, their only desire should be to do what God wants them to do, to go where God wants them to go, in the ways God shows them to do.
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