If you’re working in the secular business world but dream of working for a church or ministry instead, does that mean you should quit your current job and cross over? Not necessarily. God may be calling you to change careers, but first, you need to investigate the possibility.

Here’s how you can discern and respond to God’s call for your career:

Rely on God to lead you to the best job at the best time. Know that God will take your unique mix of interests, talents, skills, and experiences into account as He leads your career. Trust Him to equip you and use you well. Pray thoroughly about your career decisions, and listen for God’s guidance instead of just following your own feelings.

Be specific. Rather than just harboring a vague desire to go into ministry of some kind, think carefully about the various options and identify a particular type of job that best suits you. Also consider the type of organization for which you’d like to work – a church, charity, missions group, or even a consulting company that works with churches?

Bloom where you’re planted for now. Be faithful in the job you have now before you move on to any other job in the future. Practice ministering to people you know in your current environment. Honestly consider whether or not the call you sense to ministry might be a call not to switch jobs, but simply to become more active in reaching out to people you meet through your current job. Realize that your work in the secular marketplace is just as sacred as traditional ministry if you do your best and work for God’s glory. Ask yourself questions like these: “Who are the people around you at work right now who need to hear the Gospel?”, “If you leave your secular career, what opportunities will you squander that God meant only for you?” and “Does God want you to walk away from the ministry He is developing for you on the job?” Make the transition only if you can’t imagine serving God in any other way except full-time ministry.

Test the ministry waters. Try out some ministry work part-time or on a volunteer basis while still working in your secular job. See if you can be an apprentice to someone who is already working in the type of ministry job you think you may like to have yourself someday. Don’t rush into any changes; take all the time you need to see whether or not that job is a good fit for you (and if not, explore your options by trying out different ministry work while still keeping your secular job for now).

Seek guidance from prayer and the Bible. Pursue the knowledge of God’s will through these two main channels of communication He has opened for you.

Develop personal mission and vision statements. Think and pray about a simple statement that summarizes God’s mission for your life and that’s based on Scripture and oriented on the Gospel. For example, consider how Luke 19:10 summarizes Jesus’ mission: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” Then create a vision statement that fleshes out your mission statement into specific goals that define how you plan to accomplish your mission.

Seek wise counsel. Ask people you trust and who know you well – like some close friends or family members – to broaden your perspective as you discern God’s calling on your career. Invite them to bring you back to reality when they think you’re heading off track, and to encourage you to take risks when they think you’re moving in the right direction.

Take your family’s concerns seriously. Talk openly and honestly with your spouse and children about your dreams for your career. Listen carefully to the concerns they express. If your family doesn’t support your potential move to full-time ministry, don’t rush into it. Instead, pass a magnifying glass over your life and deal with the issues you see there.