by Ben Mandrell
Starting over … Perhaps you’ve been there before; perhaps you are there now. For me, beginning anew has felt like a clash of conflicting feelings. Leaving my church behind to become a church planter has caused two very different tastes to be born in my mouth. In one sense, this whole thing has been bitter as I bid farewell to people who feel like family, never knowing if our lives will meet again (this side of eternity). On the other hand, starting from scratch has tasted sweet, as my wife and I have been trained to walk with God more intimately than ever. How I feel emotionally through this adventure depends on the day that you call.
Are you are thinking about taking on a new challenge? Are you dreaming about a dramatically different place of ministry? Do you sense the Lord leading you to take a step of faith? If you do, keep on reading. Following are the various emotions that will likely come with a new call.
The Bitter Side of Starting Over
There are at least three uncomfortable emotions one should expect when launching out in a new way. Whether you are a widower called to remarry, an entrepreneur called to cash out, or like me, a pastor called to a new place of service, these emotions can be expected. Starting over:
- Feels scary. Like walking through a cave without a torch, taking on a brand new assignment feels fraught with danger. Imagine how Michael Jordan felt when he stopped shooting basketballs and attempted to hit a slider! Switching games like this will cause any human being to fear failure like never before, but this sense of desperation can be used by God to produce many treasured things (more on this in a moment).
- Feels awkward. Any time you step out to start something new, a learning curve is assumed. The height of the curve depends on the degree of change. For me, serving as senior pastor of a large church in the South has meant empowering 40 staff members, preaching three consecutive services on Sunday mornings, and much more. As a church planter, I am discovering how to read Excel spreadsheets, engage in face-to-face evangelism, and build a core team. It’s like learning to ride a bike, but it’s fun to feel like you’re taking off!
- Feels slow. Rolling a boulder takes brute strength at the beginning but soon it gains momentum. Likewise, starting something new requires much patience as the project gets underway. Expect wait times.
The Sweet Side of Starting Over
Having mentioned the more trying elements of a brand new start, let me highlight the super-awesome aspects. Starting over:
- Feels adventurous. If you enjoy the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, you will love the thrill of beginning a quest of your own. At every turn, there is a new challenge and a fresh chance for personal growth. Obstacles of life change us for the good, causing us to rise to higher levels of living. These past months have not been easy for our family, but they have NOT been boring either! Together, we are sensing the good pleasure of God as we blaze this trail before us.
- Feels Spirit-led. In the book of Acts, the new believers were making it up as they went along. There were all kinds of kinks to be worked out when combining Jews and Gentiles into one unified force, but these ordinary people followed the extraordinary Spirit of God. As they were obedient, they sensed the power of His rescue like never before.
- Feels prayerful. One of the greatest blessings of a brand new start is the rejuvenation experienced in secret prayer. When we take no risks, we gain no ground in faith. Stepping out in a dramatic way has drawn our family closer to Jesus. We are praying with a fervency that the walls of our house have never witnessed before. It’s been incredible.
As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” Do you sense it’s time for trailblazing? If so, go for it! Where are you in your journey?
Ben Mandrell is currently preparing to pastor the church plant, Storyline Fellowship, which will be based in Denver. Previously, Ben served as senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in West Tennessee. He is the author of the Bible study, Do Over: Experience New Life in Christ.