If you are in ministry, there are times in your life when you have to make a decision about moving from one place of ministry to another. We often use very spiritual and theological language to explain this. In a recent conversation, someone asked me, “How did you know when it was time for you to leave a ministry position?”

As I reflected on this, I had several thoughts. Each time our family has moved from one place of ministry to another (four times by my count including the move from seminary to first call), the circumstances were different. One theme that seemed to run throughout, however, was the phrase “holy discontent.” Something was just not right or was challenging me to deal with a specific need or issue.

I have borrowed this term from Bill Hybels, and I recommend his book titled “Holy Discontent.” In my usage of the term, the state of holy discontent is one where I know something needs to be addressed and it probably will not be unless I do something about it.

In my experience, it may be a need to work with a particular group of people or an opportunity to face a particular challenge. Sometimes, the call has been processed not through personal and ministry needs but family needs as well. In some situations, I perceived a need on the part of my family, and God was certainly challenging me to do something about it.

I think we see the working out of “holy discontent” in the ministry of Jesus on a number of occasions. In Luke 19, we read the account of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem because he saw the great gap between the practice of worship there and the worship that God truly desired. He was discontent with this situation and was willing to make the sacrifice necessary to bring about a change.

Don’t be afraid of holy discontent. Learn to perceive it, nurture it and then act on it responsibly.

Ircel Harrison is an associate with Pinnacle Leadership Associates and director of the Murfreesboro Center of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. A version of this column appeared previously on his blog.

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