A Retrograde Call

I’m still wandering through Newton’s letters to John Ryland.  In Letter 54 Ryland is considering a call to a different church.  The new position is definitely a “step up.”  This is part of Newton’s response:

“Considering that our Lord’s Kingdom is not of this world, I have thought it a little strange, that when his ministers think He calls them to leave one charge for another, it should almost universally be from less to more; to a better income, a larger town or a more genteel congregation.  We seldom have an instance of a retrograde call.  Ministers frequently move from the country to London, but for one to leave London, for a charge in the country is rare indeed.”

The interesting thing is that Newton himself had moved from the country to London to take a bigger congregation.  Obviously there are lots of factors to be considered and Newton is very careful in his counsel.  But I think this is an interesting point.  Is pastoral ministry a career in the sense that one’s goal is to move up to more and more influence and more and more money?  I remember in seminary hearing about men who were being prepared for significant ministry.  I’ve always wondered how one is supposed to determine in what way one ministry is more “significant” than another.

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