Change. Many people think it is needed in life, yet few truly like it. Couple that with, as a Christian, trying to find, know, and be obedient to the will of God. And what is the will of God, really? Many Christians have sought to find the “ever elusive will of God.” Except God’s will isn’t elusive. It’s not hidden. It is found in obedience. Obedience in the small areas helps us to be obedient in the big areas.
That is where my wife, Shallon, and I found ourselves in the last year. We have lived in Pasco County, Florida, for 15 years. The first 3 1/2 years in full time ministry at Word of Life Florida Conference Center, Bible Institute and Youth Camp. The last 11 1/2 years in full time ministry as the Minister to Students at First Baptist Church of New Port Richey. There was a time when I thought that my ministry for life would be Word of Life, but God gave me a different direction. Then I thought that I would be the Student Pastor at First Baptist for the rest of my life.
A little over 2 1/2 years ago, God began putting a stirring in my heart for what was next. I didn’t know what that was, or where that was. At first, another church had talked with me about moving there to do student ministry, but that was not what God had for me. So, we kept doing life and ministry in West Pasco County. I didn’t always succeed, but my goal was to be fully obedient to God in all that He put in front of me.
In October 2015, the search committee from Spring Valley Baptist Church in Springville, Alabama, asked me for my resume. Please note – all they did was ask to see my resume. However, in my wisdom, I said no. The problem with this is that I am not God. Shallon and I had decided early in our ministry that if someone asked for my resume, we gave it to them, because who are we to say no for God? Throughout the fall, they continued to ask me for my resume. My heart struggled with this, and after about a month and a half, I sent it in, just before they stopped accepting resumes. At this point, I still had no thought towards or desire to leave Florida, or even go to Alabama. But thankfully, God was not finished working on my heart.
Remember, following God’s will means obedience in the small things.
As 2015 turned into 2016, God was working more and more in my heart to bring it into full submission to Him. Through a series of events and small acts of obedience on my part in the course of one week, God began to throw doors wide open. Never in my life had I ever thought about living in Alabama. Yet suddenly, it was on my heart and mind constantly. It led us to the point that Spring Valley Baptist Church unanimously voted to call me as Pastor on May 22, 2016.
People have asked me how, after almost 18 years of student ministry, I can leave student ministry. The answer is simple – I want to be fully obedient to God. I know that I will still have involvement in student ministry, through trainings, speaking at events and camps, and similar things. However, over the last 15 months or so, God has been laying more and more of a burden on my heart for the whole church. What has happened since January 2016 can only be from God. If Shallon and I (or others) had tried to orchestrate all of the details in the manner that they happened, we would have failed miserably. God has opened the door. He has shown us time and time again that He alone is Sovereign. He alone is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He alone is the Master of the vastness of the universe, yet also the Master of the smallest detail.
While we have loved First Baptist Church, Word of Life, Anclote High School, New Port Richey, Pasco County, and the people in those locations, we are excited about the future that God is leading us into. We will miss those we have spent years ministering to and with, but we also know that God is bringing new people and new ministries into our path.
Though this is not the path that I would have chosen for us, I would not change one thing about it. There is nothing better, more exciting, or more challenging than living in obedience and living in the center of God’s will.