5 Steps Toward a Major Decision

For the past week-and-a-half I have been relatively radio silent. I didn’t want to make the following information public knowledge until all the proper people had been informed. My last post will bring you up to date on recent major events in my life. I had been one of the finalists on a “Call List” at Ascension Lutheran Church in Casselberry, Florida. My wife, Tammy, and I went to Florida where I stood before about 140 members of the congregation and answered the same twenty-two questions as did three other pastoral candidates on separate nights.

It was a daunting evening. But the people of Ascension Lutheran were very hospitable and gracious. Just before we got on the plane to return home I received a phone call from the president of Ascension informing me that I had been elected to receive the Call to be pastor of their church.

So I returned home in possession of two Calls: one to Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one to Ascension Lutheran Church in Casselberry, Florida. I now have to make a decision that will not only have an impact on me and my family, but literally hundreds of people in two different places.

There are now four to six weeks for me to make a God-guided decision. This is what I plan to do:

  1. Pray. The Lord has a plan and a place for me. First and foremost I need His guidance and direction. Not only will I be praying, I know the people of Mt. Calvary and Ascension will be praying as well. I ask for your prayers, too.
  2. Listen. I really want to know if my ministry is still effective at Mt. Calvary. I will be listening to what Mt. Calvary members have to say about where we are and where they hope to go. It’s also important to pay attention to silence.
  3. Visit. We plan to visit Casselberry once again to learn more about its people, its worship, and its ministry. I need to determine where best my gifts fit by learning as much as I possibly can.
  4. Talk. As you can well imagine, my wife, Tammy, and I have already discussed this all a great deal. I also cherish and respect the thoughts and opinions of both of my children. This decision impacts not only me, but all of them. They deserve a voice.
  5. List. I will physically write down pros and cons, positives and negatives, regarding both scenarios. It’s always helpful to see in black and white which list is longer and which is shorter, and what all of those items bring to bear on the decision.

Eventually, a decision will have to be made. It’s a decision that will have an impact on a great many people. But in the end I will have to trust that I will be led to make the best decision for all concerned.

When you have to make a major decision what one thing do you make sure to do?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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17 thoughts on “5 Steps Toward a Major Decision

  1. Congratulations on your call.

    The one thing I also do that's not on your list — although you probably do it as well — is that I obsessively research. Thus, in addition to everything you mentioned, I would also be trying to learn absolutely everything I could about the congregation and community (from both current and former members and residents, supporters and critics, etc.).

    The good thing about such a practice is that it enhances my ability to make an informed decision. The bad thing, of course, is that I have to fight the temptation to rely upon my own strength and abilities (and lack thereof) in making the decision. God sometimes calls us to what it is the logical, rational choice…and sometimes he calls us to the "illogical" journey out of Haran.

  2. I wish you happiness and the joy of sharing your gifts. I, of course would like you to stay where you are – I know I cant get there like I should but it doesnt mean I dont have a feel for the church and what you mean to it.

    I also know that you would be great in Florida too! Any congregation would be lucky to have you. You have a gift of compassion for people and understanding – it makes you a great asset to any community.

    God will let you know what to do – sometimes you will get his call in the simplest of ways – so be sure you are paying attention!

  3. After serving 18 (?) years at Calvary, the question i'm sure is: "Has my time run out here?" Listen to your people on that. They may, or may not, say the "right" things. But pay attention! I heard quite clear, between the lines, that my time had run out at my previous church of 18 years.

    P.S. the kids are out of the nest. Don't let the kids determine this too much. At least they weren't in 7, 9, 10 grade when we moved. ugh.

    • Yes, that is certainly one of the questions. And I don't envy you moving with kids who were those ages. Yikes!

  4. I will be praying for you and Tammy, Tom. If I can be of any help as far as thoughts on Florida/Wisconsin life, please let me know. We'd obviously LOVE to have you closer, but you've got a lot of important things to consider. Love to you all!

  5. Pastor, In the 65 some years that I have been a member of Mt. Calvary, I have been involved in "Calls" to seven Pastors. As you deliberate on this call, I have to tell you, that, in my opinion, for what that is worth, it is time for the congregation at Mt. Calvary to focus on it's future. The current leadership should have an input into your decision, but the truth be known God will make that decision for you. Personally, I will miss you and your Ministry. At my age I have a few years left.

  6. This by far is not an easy decision. I've had less time to make a decision about relocation, but it was an easy decision in my circumstance. However, when I come home and your not there, it will not be the same at all. Although if you choose to relocate its the same long distance drive from where I currently reside to where you may relocate to and I've always wanted to visit Florida.

    Just know that I will never forget the time you spent with my father during his struggle with cancer and then what happened after. I asked him how he kept a clear mind and didn't seem down and he told me that by speaking with you he made his peace with God. When he told me that, it made it easy for me to go through my personal struggles and for me to essentially move away from all my family and friends. Just know that you will be missed if you leave Milwaukee, but there is always facebook to keep in touch. I'm sure your children will be happy to have you closer.

    It is also true about researching, because things seem great when your a visitor, but are much more different when your a permanent resident and the grass may not be greener and you may want to factor in the weather elements as well.

    • Thank you for your kind words. Your father is a very special man, and I always appreciated his incredible service to our church. I appreciate your prayers.

  7. We welcome a second visit from you with open arms! As you know, I'm a member of Ascension Lutheran in Casselberry. We have grieved the loss of our previous Pastor to cancer, but what a wonderful place he is in now! Our congregation isn't as big as yours in Milwaukee, but I believe that with the help of God, a Pastor he has chosen for us, and the people of Ascension, we will grow as we continue to reach out to others who need a church home. I will continue to pray for you as you ponder this major decision in your life. It is unsettling until God reveals the answer to you. God Bless you, your family and your congregation.

  8. Wow, Pastor!

    All your messages above are so appropriate and genuine. But, my very human nature inside of me is screaming, "we NEED you." MY God has already told me this is where you are needed. Our congregation has been through so much. Please listen hard to God. I am sure he is telling you the same thing. (Well, at least I am PRETTY sure He is.) And, Tammy will enjoy the shopping. (Please tell her not to look too great when you come down.) Beyond that, imagine the great road trips it will offer all of your friends in Wisconsin as they vacation in FLA. With all of us in the congregation, no one would have to stay in a hotel. We could open our doors for free room and board. What a way to bring 2 congregations together!

    See you this weekend! I will be the one with the BIG smile and hugs all around!


  9. Ascension is a wonderful congregation with spirit filled leadership and members – God will provide us with exactly what we need and our prayers are up constantly for you at this time. Our hearts go out to the congregation that loves its shepherd, along with the excitement that God will place exactly the right shepherd among us here in Florida. God be with you, Pastor…