Nick Moultrie was recently called to step out of a flourishing youth ministry, which he and his wife had spent a year building and developing, and into a new role as youth pastor at Torrey Pines Church. In this week’s PD Cast, he shares his insights and wisdom for those in a season of starting over.
Anyone who’s experienced a transition from one ministry to another knows it isn’t easy. When Mingo Palacios asked Nick Moultrie and his wife, Stevi, to join him at Torrey Pines Church, it was a difficult and prayer-filled decision for the couple.
At the time, Nick and Stevi were building a ministry for middle and high school students in a San Diego community. Initially it was tough going, Nick says, so they started doing small things to help students feel safe and loved. “We started doing stuff in the neighborhood, started showing up to the school… meeting up and just having fun. It was a judgment-free zone. These kids were showing up and we were asking them to hide their contraband, anything like that. It was that type of an environment. But we didn’t kick them away. It was like, ‘Hey, just show up. There’s no issue here.’” Eventually they saw the ministry blossom. What had started as a group of 20 kids grew rapidly to over 100 students participating in groups every week.
Then, in the midst of this success came a nudge from God, Nick says. When Mingo reached out and requested that Nick and Stevi join the team at Torrey Pines, Nick felt it was the right time to step into a new season. “There was also this overwhelming sense of like, ‘God, we saw what we were able to do, but now it’s time – we’re going to go do this again and we’re going to do it even better.’”
Recognizing that leaving can be an emotional struggle, and having spent many sleepless nights wrestling with this decision himself, Nick offers some advice: “I think if you’re struggling with that, you need to challenge yourself. Are you still growing? Are you still learning? If you can’t move forward and feel like you can make an impact somewhere else, I think there’s a lack in growth.”
If you find yourself clinging to the past or worrying that you’re giving up something great for something that might not be as good, think of how you can use what you’ve learned to make a positive impact on a new community. “If God used you to do it before and you’re still being faithful, He’s going to use you to do it again.”
Of course, you also have to take your time when you transition out of your current role. “You have to end well,” Nick emphasizes. “You are setting someone up [to take your place].” This requires due diligence and lots of planning to make sure the next person will have what they need to excel. In Nick and Stevi’s case, several weeks before they left, they built a team to help create a smooth transition process and ensure their students were in good hands.
Nick notes that if you’re wondering whether it’s time to pivot and begin your own transition into a new season, consider asking yourself this question: Who do you want to be in the next 3 to 5 years? Examine whether your current position can bring you there, and think about the new opportunities God might bring about if you start over somewhere new – especially if you’ll have a chance to be mentored and inspired by others.
“In both your world and my world, some of the greatest lessons we’ve ever learned have been in proximity to great leaders,” Mingo shares. Nick agrees and says realizing he would be called to step up and lead alongside the team at Torrey Pines was encouraging. “Working with you in this environment, I know that I’m not going to be able to ever not grow in who I am as a leader.”
Once you’re in that new ministry, don’t be afraid to change up your methods, Nick says. What you did in your previous role might not work in the new one, and that’s okay. Embrace it and learn from it. He leaves us with some final words of wisdom on starting over: “Just make sure you’re listening to God’s voice. Some people listening right now are sitting at the beginning of a really big decision. God’s going to be there. God’s on either side of this, so just walk in faith in that.”