You need to quit…
There’s a story about a guy in the Bible (2 Kings 6) who was building something, and was trying to cut down a tree, when he lost his edge. The axe head disappeared and he was left with just the handle. Well, he could have just begun to fake it, pretending the edge was still there, swinging away at the tree. But he did the right thing: He called a man of God – someone who perhaps had lost his edge before and he said, “Elijah, I lost my edge.” It’s a great thing to admit it to someone if you’ve lost your edge. Elijah did the right thing too, asking him, “Where did you lose it?” When the man pointed to where he lost it, Elijah was able to help the man get his edge back.
Some of you have lost your edge. But what I have learned through the years of being in ministry and pastoring a church is that there are times when you’re swinging without an edge. You need to know when to quit some things, and how to quit them. But you also must know that in the big picture, you cannot quit.
I hear all the time, “Successful people just never quit anything.” I don’t believe that. There are some things you need to quit and you need to know what they are.
For example, back in the day, pastors led solely on authority. Everything was based on their authority. Every staff meeting they’d show up and someone would say, “Man of God is here. All rise.” That’s something you’ve just got to quit. Just showing up with, “God spoke to me and told me exactly what we are going to do, and this is it,” Then telling them what it was and ask, “What do y’all think about it?” What’s the staff supposed to say? “We like God, so yeah. See you next week.“
What about the heroes of the faith? They had to quit some stuff themselves. In Acts 18, the Bible says that Paul had devoted himself to preaching and testifying to the Jews that Jesus what the Messiah. But when the Jews opposed him, he quit. He said, in effect, “From now on, I’m going to the Gentiles,” and shook out his clothes in protest. The word there literally means to take it, drop it, and walk away from it. He quit. And when he did, two things happened. First, he went across the street then next day and started winning souls, fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 49, “You will also make light and give light to the Gentiles.” Some of you know what it is that God has promised to do through you, but it’s not happening yet. It could be that you need to quit something that’s not working so you can go do that thing that God has for you to do.
In John 4:35 Jesus teaches us something about this. "Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Right now. Quit saying, “Someday we’re going to do that.” No, quit the things that aren’t working – drop them, and go to another place. It is worth it to win souls. I love what Craig Groeschel says: “I’ll do anything to win a soul if it doesn’t grieve the heart of God.”
One of the parables Jesus told in Luke 13 was about a tree that wasn’t bearing any fruit. The caretaker told the owner, “You’ve spent three years nurturing this tree to no avail. But let’s try it one more time and if it doesn’t work after that, then cut it down.” Some of you have spent everything you have, over and over, but just can’t bring yourself to quit. Here’s why I think so many stay in something too long.
First, you don’t quit because you are afraid you’re making a mistake or you might hurt someone. You’re paralyzed by that fear, and as a result, you haven’t had confidence in a long time.
The other reason is pride. King Uzziah was a man God gave success to as long as he sought the Lord. He was so blessed that people came from all over the world to study what was going on in his realm. But he let pride enter in, and he started thinking, “I’ve got this. I’ve got it going on.” And the next thing you know, he got leprosy and died. And despite all of the blessing and all the good that happened during his reign, he is remembered as the king who died of leprosy. You’re not remembered by the way you start, but by the way you exit. Don’t let pride keep you from quitting the things you need to quit.
Fear and pride. I look back at how we started New Life Church in Arkansas, and I realize now that I spent so much of the time being driven by fear. Even at the outset, when my wife Michelle and I were praying about planting a church, she told me, “I know you’re going to hear from God on where to go. I trust you, whatever you say, that’s where we’ll go.” That was the worst day of my life, because right there I realized that I could ruin my whole family. Fear gripped me. We started the church in Conway, Arkansas, but I was so fearful. I think back to all the times that I didn’t hire somebody we really needed on the staff simply because I was afraid. A campus we didn’t start, things we could have done for God that would have had a huge impact – we didn’t do because I was a ball and chain due to my fear.
Maybe the most important statement in this message is this: Right where you are afraid, that is usually where you have the most anointing.
Fear can be paralyzing. But sometimes, fear makes you go faster. You try to overcompensate with working more, fighting harder, foregoing rest because you are afraid that if you let up that everything is going to fall apart. But you’re neglecting your family. Your kids miss you. Your wife wants to hang out with you. I know because I’ve lived that way.
There are some things you just need to quit. Don’t be too proud, and don’t be afraid of quitting them. Quitting them will open the door for God to be able to do something amazing in your life.
October 15 2014