Consider the opportunities and the costs. Scout out the opportunities before you if you choose to enter full-time ministry, and compare them to the sacrifices you’ll likely have to make. Be thoroughly aware of what you’re getting into, and plan well, while trusting that God will help you every step of the way if He is truly calling you.

Scrutinize your educational qualifications. Realize that you may need more education to be effective in a full-time ministry job. Consider going to seminary, taking online courses, and getting any other type of training that will help you serve with excellence. Learn all you can about the Bible so you’ll have a strong Scriptural foundation from which to work.

Make an informed decision. Keep your vision in mind when making your decision, don’t make it in a vacuum, and make sure that it is realistic, timely, public, and for the long haul.

Trust God and look for confirmation. Wait for God to move in His timing after you make your decision, and rely on Him to arrange all the right circumstances for you to change jobs.

Don’t look back. Once you’ve been released to pursue your new career, don’t let anything hold you back from moving ahead wholeheartedly.

Plan a financial strategy for making the change well. Understand that planning your finances is an act of faith and obedience that demonstrates to God that you’re taking His call seriously. Ask God to give you the wisdom you need to plan well. Trust God to meet all of your needs. Expect that you will likely encounter financial challenges as you move into full-time ministry, and prepare for them. Create a budget. Don’t use any funds from your retirement account to help make a career transition; instead, plan to keep saving money to build your retirement account even when you have less income. Plan on keeping some kind of job while you make the transition. Consider reducing your mortgage by moving to a smaller home. Seek outside financial support for your educational expenses, through your church, personal contacts, seminary scholarships, etc. Carefully plan every step of your transition out of your secular job and into your full-time ministry position.

Figure out how to use your existing skills well in your new job. Refine the secular marketplace skills you already possess so you can apply them to your ministry work. Make excellence your goal in everything you do; remember that anything less dishonors God. Ask God to help you maximize your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.

Confront loneliness. Expect to feel lonely sometimes after you begin working in full-time ministry, due to a lack of privacy and heavy demands that limit your time for close friendships. Ask God to make you aware of His constant presence with you, develop an inner circle of staff or lay leaders, keep your work in the proper perspective as just one part of your overall life. Set boundaries to keep your work from harming other aspects of your life. Observe a weekly Sabbath day. Guard your personal devotional time, as well as time with your spouse and children. Maintain your existing friendships, remembering that your old friends know you better than your new friends do.

Overcome fear. Remember that, with God on your side, you have nothing to fear. Choose to praise God no matter what, even when you’re going through scary circumstances. Pray about each of your fears and surrender them to God, trusting Him to release you from their power over you. Wait for God to answer your prayers in powerful ways. Run away from any sin that’s causing fear in your life and focus on peacefully doing the work God has for you to do.

Deal with opposition. When someone close to you like a family member or key church member opposes your ministry or calling, rely on God’s strength to get you through the crisis and know that He’ll use the experience to strengthen your character and grow your maturity. Remember that people are imperfect everywhere; don’t be surprised when you encounter difficult people and hurtful attitudes and behaviors in the church. Understand issues that commonly cause opposition: change, control and authority, conflict and confrontation, and a lack of commitment to excellence. If you’re sure of God’s calling to ministry, persevere in your obedience to it, no matter what.

Adapted from Career Crossover: Leaving the Marketplace for Ministry, copyright 2007 by Tom R. Harper.  Published by B & H Books, a division of B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tn.,         

 Tom R. Harper is founding publisher of, president of NetWorld Alliance, and cofounder of Church Central Associates, focusing on church consultant training and church health resources. He lives with his wife and two children in Louisville, Kentucky.