Yesterday I blogged about the danger of the “half quit” – that way in which our heart pulls back as we go through the motions. We can do it in passage study, in message planning, I’ve seen it done in delivery, I know the regular temptation in post-sermon reflection, then there’s seasons of criticism, or lack of response, etc. While we may be unwilling, for a variety of reasons, to fully quit, the half quit is an ever present temptation.
So how do we overcome the half-quit? I suppose there are several approaches, some better than others:
1. The inner self flesh effort. Look within, steel yourself, determine to be diligent, be your own drill sergeant, do the right thing! Lots of ways to say it. Typically only one ultimate outcome. It is easy to feel like we are rousing ourselves to great commitment under the hype of a presentation on the need for personal discipline (even our listeners might get stirred if we preach that way, but don’t be fooled into thinking it will still be “working” come Thursday!) The problem here is that self-stirring to great devotion in ministry is exactly what we’re talking about – what do we do when we come to times where that is absent. It makes no sense to rely on the very mechanism whose absence is the problem.
2. The outer appearance self-elevating effort. Here’s a real danger. What will people think? We can be stirred to press on due to keeping up appearances. In one sense there is value here. We don’t want to stumble others. We don’t want to crash and burn because we love those who would be caught in our wake. But there is a real danger here. Doing the right thing in ministry in order to look good creates an ever-increasing divide between reality and appearance. Eventually this show becomes as paper thin as the performance of a stand-up comedian who performs outwardly, but is utterly broken within.
3. The energy from genuine relationship. There is little in life that is as motivating as good genuine fellowship other’s captured by Christ. Looking to Christ together with others who are not performing somehow will stimulate motivation to press on like very little else. We need to be genuinely conversing with our Lord in every circumstance. He is the One who we press on to know more, who puts the fire in our bones like the prophets of old, who is the real treasure at work within these breaking vessels!
Any solution to the half quit that is about looking to myself, or about how I look to others, will be self-defeating and only make matters worse. We need to be responding to the life giver Himself, for fellowship with Him is life itself. Maybe the temptation to half-quit is a warning that the conversation has gone quiet, that your heart has grown distant and distracted. Let the warning nudge you back toward Him.