Engineering vs. Ministry – Part 1

After one year of full-time ministry, I want to take some time to point out some of the changes and challenges of leaving the engineering world to jump into ministry.

As an engineer, I was confident of my ability to solve problems. I knew that I could come up with a design for every project that I was working on. It wasn’t arrogance, but I knew that I had the training and knowledge to do my job. It might take hard work and research, but I had no doubt in my mind as I worked on each project. My job was enjoyable, but predictable.

As a pastor, I constantly realize that uncertainty is part of my life. I doubt my abilities to lead a growing church. I doubt that I can find a solution to every problem that arises in the church. I doubt that I know what I’m doing. And that doubt is a good thing, because through that doubt in myself I learn to trust Christ. I’m understanding more and more not to trust in my ability, but to trust in God working through me.

For me, engineering equaled certainty and predictability. Ministry now equals uncertainty and unpredictability. But I’m truly living life now, instead of just working for a paycheck. So to anyone actually reading this, what is holding you back from following God wherever he is calling you?


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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3 Responses

  1. dsrowles says:

    I for one would offer encouragement to be the best you can be for God. I to struggle with ministry as a full time CFO and a full time lay minister for God. Hard work for and with God will bring us joy and the hope of a well done faithful servant in the future.

    Keep the faith.

  2. Carl Booker says:

    Greetings – It has been over 7 years ago since you posted this, and I came across this today. I am at a point in my life where I know that call to ministry over my life is real, and I’ve come across examples of people that have made the transition from engineering to ministry. I’m just not sure where to begin, and the uncertainty in such a move – not just how it will end, but just how to even begin. I guess I’m thinking as an engineer at this point. I guess what’s holding me back is me getting comfortable being uncomfortable with the uncertainty and the fact that in my natural mind such a move makes no sense. Some help and insight would really be great.

    • Mike says:

      Carl, thanks for stopping by the blog. It’s always tough knowing how to make a change in life. For me, making the change was gradual. I started by working part-time in ministry for ten years doing youth ministry. It was during that time that I felt God leading me into full-time ministry. I then stepped down from my youth ministry position to focus on what God wanted me to do next. It then took three years of praying and seeking God before I had an opportunity to go into ministry full-time. So when the opportunity presented itself, there was no doubt in my mind that it was God working out the details.

      Many churches and ministries now hire from within. They look for people who are already serving and volunteering at a high level, and then bring them on. That’s really what happened to me. After I became a lead pastor, I then went back to seminary and took online classes and received my Master’s degree. My journey may not be typical, but I’m glad I waited on God instead of trying to do things my way. I’ve now been at the same church for 8 years as the lead pastor.

      One last thing, engineers like certainity and like facts. Following God always requires faith. I love how Henry Blackaby phrases it in his course Experiencing God

      • God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and his ways.
      • God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
      • You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
      • You come to know God by experience as you obey HIm and He accomplsihes His work through you

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