Years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a poster. It was a poem entitled, “Don’t You Quit.” It has become a favorite mantra of mine. It keeps my feet to the fire and my nose to the grindstone. She knew I was overworked and my focus had grown dim. I knew she was right, but I surely didn’t want to admit that to my mother-in-law! I had become a discouraged “sitter” and because of a family crisis, I was contemplating the role of the “quitter.” But, God reminded me of this poem. I reached into a file drawer, pulled out the poster, unrolled it and found renewal through its invitation. I offer it here as a motivation to you when you feel like throwing in the towel:
Don’t you Quit
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
Since helping facilitate the revitalization process with several churches and walking alongside of pastors who were dejected, discouraged and defeated, I am aware that there are leaders who can help the revitalizer, while others hinder him from being effective, blocking the church from being renewed and stifle the entire process. I pray that this treatise will be received a positive lift and not a negative thrashing.
Here are three Leadership Attitudes/Actions for our consideration:
1) The “Reluctant Admitter” (previously called by the negative title of “The Quitter”) – This leader allows the revitalizer to move forward and the church to move on without him. He has come to grips with the fact that he is the barricade. He has either accomplished the thing for which God called him to that church, or it is just time for new vision and new leadership. There is a big difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough!
The reluctant admitter may not always be that “reluctant” either! There are times and settings where dissatisfaction and distraction keep us from moving forward and upward. It could be a physical health issue or the distance from ailing parents or precious children and grandchildren that bring us to a driving desire for relocation or reuniting. I do not believe the Lord is resistant to healthy, happy, loving families! Yes, I am fully aware of Luke 14:25-26 (NKJV) – Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Just remember, this is a Semitic hyperbole. He wants our love for others to be exceeded only by our love for the Father.
If you KNOW you are not the one to lead the revitalization process, then be gutsy enough to admit it and allow someone else to step in and lead the flock to new vistas and new aspirations.
2) The “Satisfied Sitter” – this “leader” holds back the process and the church. He pulls everyone into his rut of worthless activity. This is the pastor who views the church as his place to preach and be part of a group. The flock allows him the resources and location to practice his “gift.” He’s not leading, he’s just absorbing and diffusing.
The congregation is often the first to recognize the “sitter.” They wonder why the church is not growing and healthy. People are dissatisfied and there are as many, or more, exiting as there are joining. Some refer to this as the “back door” being too broad for the continued success of the church. People are often discouraged from beginning new ministries and programs. The prospects of change and extra effort are squelched, and the desire for maintaining outweighs the possibility of creative, innovative service within the church or outside in the community.
This pastor has become satisfied with his comfort zone and disregarded the commands to go, to disciple and to be witnesses (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
3) The “Gritty Go-Gitter” (yes, I know there is no such spelling, but in the south where I was brought up, we pronounce it “gitter” instead of “getter”). This leader lights the way for the followers and drives the process. This leader lets nothing slow his momentum, lets nothing distract him from the goals he has perceived as from the Lord and perseveres until the mission is accomplished. His focus is on God getting the glory and the church walking in unity.
He is often viewed as a workaholic! He is never comfortable with where the church is or the speed at which it moves. He is always looking for a new approach, a new idea, or a more productive resource. I love the “go-gitter!” He may seem like he is ADHD, but he is probably so passionate about his love for the Lord and his calling to serve Jesus Christ that he can’t imagine stopping or even slowing down.
This leader may get frustrated by the process of revitalization. It can be slow and meticulous, but once he receives the strategy, realizes there are clear markers to verify productive movement and comprehends the goals to be achieved, he will get behind it and gladly push toward the finish line.
If you are the “Reluctant Admitter,” ask the Lord whether He expects you to lead the charge to change and revival. If not, get your resume updated and search for the ministry setting where you can have that confidence.
If you are a “Satisfied-Sitter,” rent a moving truck and relocate. Evaluate God’s calling. If you have no clear response, or you just need some time to find healing and renewal, then take the time in another setting or job that will clarify God’s leading. Ask Him to re-energize you and expand His Kingdom in and through you!
If you are a “Go-Gitter,” put the pedal to the metal and speed on. Just remember to slow down and take the congregation with you! Keep your eye and the goal, equip the saints to do the work and “run” alongside of them as all of you seek to glorify of the Father!