Success

Choosing to Quit: When Ministry Impedes Ministry

  • 19 October 2017
  • Keith Reed

PruneI was raised to never give up. A drawing was fixed to my family's refrigerator door that I still remember. A heron is being choked by a mostly-swallowed frog that's gripping its predator’s neck in a desperate act of survival. The caption? Never give up.

We love inspiring images like this. Every story worth telling involves a degree of adversity and the best stories tell us how a hero overcomes extreme odds to achieve something extraordinary. Terry Fox. Captain Sully. The Hickory Hoosiers. 

We feel inspired by these stories and the slogans that fuel them. An entire brand was launched on the premise of these axioms (No Fear). The most beloved team of my childhood was defined by a three-word rallying cry that still gives me goosebumps: refuse to lose.  

Vince Lombardi once said that winners never quit and quitters never win. An inspiring quote fit for any locker room, but in most other settings it's a statement that's misleading and inaccurate. You see, the best winners know exactly when to quit.

To be fair, we must understand how to correctly define winning and losing. The best coaches and players understand the importance of "making adjustments". This is the positive way of saying they recognize what isn't working and choose to do something different. Stated differently, they choose to quit so they can win.

But what coach would actually say that? Quitting is associated with such negativity that it's typically equated to the willful acceptance of failure—a behaviour quickly linked to shame and embarrassment. Little consideration is given to the positive results of surrendering harmful practices or to the healthy consequences of giving something up after careful consideration.

In his book called Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud uses the word "ending" to describe the calculated decision to give up something up for the sake of a new direction. He uses a pruning metaphor to illustrate the positive effects of proactive termination. A skilled gardener intentionally removes branches that fall into any of three categories because this will produce the desired results: 

Living Out God's Call, No Matter What

  • 19 January 2016
  • Randy Wollf

Last July, I had the amazing opportunity of serving for two weeks with an indigenous Christian mission in Northern India. We had the privilege of learning from and building capacity in about 80 pastors and lay leaders along with 20 young women who were part of an eight-month discipleship/vocational training program.

I was deeply encouraged and challenged by the faith of those who came to the training. One Indian pastor, who has been almost blind for 30 years, travels from Hindu village to Hindu village sharing the Gospel. Villagers have beaten him seven times for his fervent witness. Yet, despite the opposition, 200 Hindus have accepted Christ through his ministry! God has called him to share the Gospel and he is prepared to do so, no matter what the cost is.

Another pastor, who grew up in Bhutan, came to Christ through a near-death experience involving explosives. Sharing your faith in Bhutan is illegal. Yet this man, like Peter and John in Acts 4:18-20, cannot stop speaking about Christ. Despite serving two prison sentences, he has seen many come to faith and has planted several churches. Even now, in his 80s, this pastor continues to live out God’s call on his life by proclaiming the Gospel boldly.

During our last day in India, we toured Mother House in Kolkata where Mother Teresa lived and worked. As I walked through a section of the House devoted to remembering Mother Teresa, one of Mother’s quotes deeply moved me:

“I do not want to be successful; I want to be faithful.”

For Mother Teresa, true success was being faithful to God and His call on her life.

What do you sense that God would have you to focus on in the months ahead? What are His priorities for your life?

In a previous blog, I shared about Why Understanding Your Personal Calling is Important. When we understand God’s plan for our lives, it helps us to stay on track with His priorities. We live with passion and purpose, willing to make significant sacrifices to follow our Lord’s directives.