Sometimes Faithfulness Looks Like Quitting

Nathan and I were nervous to click the “send” button on the email.

We had no doubts about our decision. We knew we were doing the right thing.

However.

What made us hesitate was the fear of how it would be received. If you’ve ever made the decision to step away from a ministry position, you know what I’m talking about. On a side note, fear of the opinion of others is a good indicator my focus is wrong (ouch).

We knew it was time to step away from leading our small group at our church. The problem with stepping away from an area of ministry is that people are involved- people who might be disappointed. One of the things I hate more than anything is disappointing people. I feared being labeled a “quitter” or worse, “unfaithful”.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of faithfulness lately.  I wonder if we confuse loyalty to one particular place of serving with Biblical faithfulness.

This thought has been swirling around in my head:

Faithfulness is not about doing the same ministry for a long period of time.

Biblical faithfulness is about following Jesus first. His call before any other ministry, cause or person.

We confuse the two.

Lore Wilbert has a print hanging on the wall of her house. This is what it says,

“Fidelity to the Word of God and not to an outcome.”

It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

Nathan and I are trying to be faithful. That’s why, several months after disbanding our small group, we’re in the early stages of starting up a new one. We’ve prayed about it. We’ve talked about it with our discipleship minister.  This is what faithfulness looks like right now. I’m trying to remember that faithfulness isn’t about a promised outcome. It’s not about lifetime commitment to one particular way of serving. It’s about taking the next right step.

It can take quite a bit of faith to hold these things lightly. Being willing to say, “Anytime you want to change my course, go ahead, God,” can be more difficult than checking the box on one way of serving and putting our lives on auto-pilot. This isn’t an excuse to leave a church/situation because you’re upset 🙂 I wrote about the spiritual discipline of staying here.  This is about being open to change even if it’s uncomfortable.

It’s interesting timing that Francis Chan just spoke at an event at the Facebook headquarters about his decision, several years ago, to leave a growing, successful ministry.

Francis Chan quit his job. It was the most faithful thing he could do.

We become unhealthy when we confuse loyalty to a position we fill with faithfulness.  It can cause our identity to get tied up in how much work we do rather than in our relationship with Jesus. That’s a quick trip to burn-out.

These days, I’m thinking about this.

Faithfulness is being willing to take the next right step and being open to wherever that leads.

“Wherever that leads” can be the trickiest thing.