1 Thessalonians 5:21 Examine everything and HOLD ON…
1 Peter 5:9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
Acts 11:23 He encouraged them with all purpose of heart that they should continue with the Lord.
At the risk of seeming a little proof texty, the above are three gleaming examples of the encouragement to “NOT QUIT.” These passages represent three different writers, three different readers, and yet strikingly similar exhortations.
In the last scripture, we have a small, new launch, infant, beginning church, and when Barnabas sees its love, its enthusiasm, its fire, its purity, and its devotion to just wanting to make a difference and introduce people to Jesus, his primary encouragement to them, perhaps knowing what difficulty they would face, was that they “NOT QUIT.”
French Arrington’s record of that church indicates it survived nearly 5 times longer than the average life span of historical Christian churches. Could it be Barnabas’ directive to them fanned a flame?
Maybe you’re more emotionally stable than me, BUT I need encouragement, sometimes often. We probably all had some minor delusion of “changing the world” unrestrained and uninhibited. We had thoughts that people would just come because we loved them, and a million-dollar real estate mogul’s son would get saved in a service and he in turn would finance a huge campus debt-free, and we would get paid to read the Bible and pray, AND the Glory of God would swirl around us like Donald Trump’s hair in a New York City wind.
Then enters stage right that pesky struggle between the ideal and the real. We are expected to clean the church, cut the grass, visit, open doors, lock doors, adjust thermostats, fight with boards, wrestle with leaders, fire staff, hire staff, be an insurance agent, tax professional, attorney, counselor, finance manager, real estate guru, leader, worshipper, preacher, writer… is it Friday yet?!?
The truth is, it’s not as glamorous or as easy as Furtick and Houston make it look. There have been many days I felt like quitting, like what I do doesn’t matter, maybe you can identify, but I’m pleading with you today, HANG IN THERE.
Around 1870, when New York City had one of the most hotly contested mayor’s races in its history, the incumbent was Mayor John Tweed. Boss Tweed’s political machine began to roll and was corrupt to the core. There were a number of committed citizens who decided to fight. In the beginning, they seemed to be making a difference, but as the campaign dragged on, the cost of the commitment of time and energy became more than most people were willing to pay. Many of the good people, who initially believed in the importance of what they were doing, began to drop out. In the end, Boss Tweed had been reelected. The next day, the New York Times ran an editorial and analyzed what had happened. The article summed up the situation with these words: “The good people quit being good before the bad people quit being bad.”
Here are three things I pray that will blow some strong, fresh wind in your sails and push you a little farther on your journey.
- DON’T QUIT
Life will give plenty of leaky roofs, flat tires, and stupid people to navigate around. We can’t afford to let the circumstances dictate our commitments.
Every great success story is the story of a struggle- in the garden, the early history of Israel, and the early church, YET here we are. WHY? They didn’t quit. Adam “died” because of his sin, but called Eve “the mother of all living,” because he refused to quit. After 40 years in the wilderness, an 85-year-old Caleb says, “I am just as able now to claim it as I was then,” and a Paul couldn’t be killed because he was already dead, “for me to live is Christ…”
THERE WILL COME a day when the “honeymoon” is over and it seems all of hell will vent its hottest rage against your life. People will leave you, hurt you, and reject you, BUT in that moment around you, don’t doubt what God has put in you!
PASTORS, don’t let vicious people wreck your vision, don’t let the jaded steal your joy, DON’T let thieves and parasites keep you from the mission. You’ll have plenty of reasons per day to quit, BUT don’t you do it. YOUR purpose is greater than your pain!
- DON’T QUIT
The idea in allowing spiritual opposition isn’t without purpose, it’s that you’ll prevail. LISTEN, God doesn’t want the abrasion of life to wear you down BUT polish you up. I wish we could go from the PROMISE to the PALACE without the PIT, but we can’t always.
What a left handed compliment to be found worthy of demonic attacks! At the risk of sounding uber-cliché, if he’s a “good” devil and you’re a threat at all, you’re worth attacking.
Satan’s greatest attacks are the assault on your mind. I can’t tell you how many times that I have thought I was losing my mind. IF you haven’t learned it by now, the enemy isn’t stupid; he’s a schemer. He will tell you you’re unworthy, you don’t matter, your wife and kids think you’re a flop, you’ll think you can’t preach, you’ll go to conferences and feel worse because you’re not as talented. THOSE things weigh on our mind and speak loud in our ears, BUT 2 Corinthians 10:4 “THE WEAPONS of our warfare…bringing into captivity EVERY THOUGHT to the obedience of Christ…”
LUKE 10:19 Behold I give you “POWER” (EXOUSIA) OVER ALL the POWER (DUNAMIS) of the ENEMY. Literally translated- CHRIST grants us authority above all the devils ability, DON’T QUIT, you have all you need!
- DON’T QUIT
I recently spent a week in Africa and was privileged to see cheetahs, the fastest animal on the planet, in the wild on a game reserve. Though fast, if they don’t catch their prey very quickly, they’ll give up, IN PART, because they have a very small heart. What a metaphor for today! People run after God, but quickly lose heart when things don’t go their way, and they quit. I understand; I have felt the same way. In the early years of planting a church with seven people, the struggles seemed insurmountable, BUT GOD has brought us into a great place of prosperity and I often wonder where I’d be had I quit.
Keep grinding it out week after week, keep reaching, keep pressing, and keep pursuing. YOU, my friends, are a pixel in this beautiful picture of God’s church, DON’T QUIT.
Patrick Casey is the Lead Pastor of Christian Life Church in Mobile, Alabama. He is passionate about, not only pastoring his community, but also encouraging his fellow pastors. Patrick and his wife, Kim, live in the Mobile area with their two children, J. and Lauryn.