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9 Action Steps for a Successful Transition From Business to Ministry

2) Moving From Business to Ministry: Embrace a new and different rhythm.

The rhythm of business, (certainly at least large publicly traded corporations,) is generally driven more by monthly and quarterly timelines.

The church is highly focused on a seven-day cycle. Learning how to plan ahead while focusing on the reality of an ever-present weekly rhythm requires an adjustment.

This new rhythm is not contained to work; for example, the word weekend has an entirely new definition.

There certainly are other professions from public service, such as firefighters and police, to medical professionals and retail that work weekends, but it’s still the weekend, and the definition hasn’t changed.

In ministry, your weekend is experienced differently, especially Sunday mornings.

As you adjust your days off, it’s essential to understand your family still thinks of weekends in the same way, including both Saturday and Sunday. (That’s when your kids are off from school.) Don’t take this lightly.

Find your new creative rhythms that work for your family, and it will work well, but it does require intentionality.

3) Moving From Business to Ministry: Prepare for a culture shock.

I love the uniqueness of the ministry environment, but it is different. Ministry tends to be relationally governed.

Staff who came from the business world often say they experience relationships carrying a much greater level of significance. This does not, in any way, suggest that relationships are not important in business; they are vital. But those making the transition say they immediately feel a sense of eternity in relationships.

One said,

“The idea of the ‘customer’ is entirely different. The customer is the congregation and the community, and you can’t separate these two, but you have to address them entirely differently. Further, all ‘customers’ are equal in value; everyone matters the same. Such things do not rate them as purchasing power or brand ambassador etc.”

They all say that business moves at a faster pace, but ministry carries a heavier weight. Again, I think that’s a result of work focused entirely on people in combination with the reality of eternal consequences.

In ministry, deals are not made and closed, and with life change, ministry is never done. In fact, people come “undone,” and we start again.

4) Moving From Business to Ministry: Navigate one life rather than two.

It is common in ministry to make little to no distinction between work, spiritual life, and personal life.

Staff members from the business community said,

I no longer feel like I have a clearly separate work life and personal life. It’s a good thing actually because my faith is the great connector between the two and my Christianity is full time. However, it can be difficult to shut off from work because the needs of people can’t be contained in an 8am-5pm time frame.”

It becomes essential to learn how to disengage from ministry without becoming distant or disconnected. And it is equally important to enjoy a sense of living out your faith but not connecting it to a paycheck.

5) Moving From Business to Ministry: Don’t hesitate to use your marketplace experience.

It’s not uncommon for those who make the change from business to ministry to feel spiritually unprepared or even spiritually inadequate.

Everyone in ministry needs to deepen their prayer life and study God’s Word, but if God called you, He will equip you.

Most of the time, the feeling of inadequacy is an attack of the enemy, and you need to reject it.

This kind of spiritual attack can destroy one of the greatest gifts you can bring the church, and that is your experience in the marketplace.

Remember, if you were not a force to be reckoned with, Satan would leave you alone.

If you have been in business for years, you have learned much, and your experience is invaluable. Yes, some of it must be adapted, but that’s not a problem. If God called you from business to ministry, He wants to use what He has already given you in the business arena.

6) Moving From Business to Ministry: Learn to measure outcomes differently.

This response was so good; I’m just going to share it with you as is.

“For me, there are two stark differences that are inter-related.  First, in the business world, profit is an incredibly clarifying metric. There is no ambiguity, there is no debate, and the numbers are clear. Each month, each quarter, each year, the profit, or loss, is a clear scorecard. You know whether you won or lost. In ministry, the scorecard is more ambiguous, more faceted, and more nuanced.  It’s about eternal life change.

Certainly, numbers are useful indicators of progress in ministry, but they are rarely the definitive scorecard. Second, is the intuitive, perhaps even mystical, nature of decision making in ministry. 

Of course, we analyze, we plan, we study what’s working in other ministries, but at the end of the day, the decision making relies heavily upon discernment of God’s will for the ministry.

Business leaders and executives accustomed to decision making informed by robust data-driven analysis, the ministry decision making processes may seem less rigorous. However, I’ve learned over the last 15 years, that decisions founded on faith in the discerned will of God seem to require more rigor and more commitment than decisions founded upon unimpeachable data.”

7) Moving From Business to Ministry: Lean into collaborative over competitive.

In the world of sports, business, and many industries, the competitive edge is king.

Certainly, in ministry like in business, the importance of innovation, staying current with culture and leadership drive is vital. But in most cases, a purely competitive disposition will slow your progress in ministry.

When churches compete with each other, both lose because we’re all on the same team. When staff members compete, they lose because they are also, literally, on the same team.

Learning to redirect what may be unhealthy competition to productive collaboration without losing your leadership drive is essential.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

8) Moving From Business to Ministry: Prepare yourself financially.

There are exceptions in ministry just as in any business or non-profit, but in general, there is an adjustment in salary and lifestyle from business to ministry.

Please forgive any over-generalization that may be present and read for the big picture. You may receive a handsome salary, but my experience from those who have made this transition is that you will adjust to a more modest paycheck.

Now go back to point one. Settle your calling. If your call to ministry is clear then make the change and adjust, tens of thousands have and you can too.

I’ve known many in ministry who knew they were called but took a couple of years to save a significant amount of money to help soften the adjustment. Smart.

I’m not going to say something cliché like “Ultimately your salary doesn’t matter when you work for God,” because it does. But I will say, when you are in the center of God’s will for your life, there is nothing like it.

9) Moving From Business to Ministry: Get ready for the ride of your life!

I’ve been in ministry for a long time, and it’s been an amazing adventure.

The clarity of purpose, the meaningful nature of ministry, and the beauty of the relationship are difficult to put into words without telling countless stories of life change.

The supernatural realm, miracles, and the unexpected create an experience that you simply cannot manufacture in any other way. When your work is in direct partnership with God’s mission, and you sense the eternal nature of your full time effort, there is something deeply satisfying about it. It’s not problem-free, but it is fantastic.

This article about transitioning from business to ministry originally appeared here.