The Next Thing


For years, I’ve fought against the urge to place too much weight upon the next thing. The next thing may not be clearly defined, of course–it rarely is. But nonetheless, I catch myself looking ahead, dreaming of what might be. All the while, I steadily lose sight of my present responsibilities.

I wrote about the temptation to look to the future too much just over a month ago. In that post, I highlighted some general principles, objective truths of the matter. But I’m becoming more convinced that these truths hold particular weight for my present situation; I’m recognizing more of a subjective element to this idea than I initially expected.

At this moment, unless the Lord leads elsewhere, I don’t plan on making any major moves anytime soon.

Ministry: I’ve been at my current church for over four years as a student minister. I don’t believe I’m especially gifted for student ministry, and I often feel challenged in the work. But while I’ve watched other ministers come and go throughout the area in the last few years, I’ve never felt led away. As I grow to know the people and the area better, I don’t foresee myself leaving anytime soon. God, I believe, has more for me to learn and do here.

Relationship: I believe God still has more for me to learn and do as a single guy as well. I’d like to get married one day, and I see the goodness of marriage for ministry and for sanctification. But I also see that I’d be leaving behind certain opportunities for service presently available to me. I don’t think he’s done with me here.

Education: I just finished my first semester in the doctoral program at NOBTS. Because of the freedoms afforded me by my present ministry and relationship statuses, I have a great deal of freedom to pursue education. Even so, my degree is a multi-year commitment. I love my studies, and I’m excited to be shaped through this season. But I won’t be finished here for a while.

I don’t always enjoy staying put. Growing up, I always wanted to be moving, going somewhere new, exploring some place I hadn’t yet been. I don’t think I’ve shaken that desire. When I don’t see any major changes on the horizon, I can easily feel stationary, as if I’m stuck until God finally reveals the next thing. I’m learning, however, that a good God controls my future. As Proverbs states,

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21

I don’t need to worry about the next thing. Even my daily provision is in his hands (Matthew 6:25-34).

So what is my part? How do I live when I don’t feel called to move? I believe the answer lies in a focus on present faithfulness. I’m reminded of Jesus’s words concerning faithfulness, that “one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10). I’m reminded of the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19. I’m convinced that I need to be faithful in what God has called me to in this season instead of distracted by too much attention to the future. I see my need for growth in each of the areas listed above as well as in other areas of my life, and I suspect that growth will come during this season of staying, growth which might not come through continued movement.

No matter what the next thing may be, I want to be found faithful today. I want to be the man God has called me to be, not distracted by anything that might captivate my gaze. And I want to serve as unto Christ in all that I do, trusting his Spirit to guide me from now unto eternity.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


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