We’ve all found ourselves, from time to time, in places where we never intended to be. There may be a series of decisions that led us to that place. It may come all at once, totally unaided by us, but it still comes. In the wake of those moments, we often wonder how we arrived there. We think back through events and question ourselves, not knowing why we didn’t see it coming, or why we didn’t do anything different to stop it from happening. It’s a walk through the land of “WouldaShouldaCoulda” that benefits no one. Somewhere, we settled.
When my wife and I went to CPAC (the church planters assessment center) we experienced a lot of different things. And like I said in a previous post, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it. Aside from the experiences that CPAC provides, one of the final components is a sit-down with your assessors. We talked through everything we had experienced in the previous 18 months, walked through personalities and patterns of behavior. It was very life-giving for both me and my wife. One of the key things that they gave to us was a very short, very impactful statement: “Don’t settle.”
Two words that are still ringing in my ears today, and that cause me to evaluate what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and it keeps me from walking back into places of self-doubt caused by situations from the past. “Don’t settle.” Jesus has called us to a deeply meaningful work. Every Christian, the full priesthood of believers, have been called to an eternally meaningful work. And when it comes to the work of the Gospel, we must be certain that we do not settle. This is the most important work of our life.
But this was important for me beyond just that, as if you can say ‘just’ in regards to the Gospel. For us, we had been in a place, and for a while, where we really felt like we were having to push too hard, too long.
The church isn’t perfect. Those who help lead her, myself included, are not perfect. But there can come a point where the Gospel work you have been called to simply isn’t being supported, allowed or may even be discouraged by others in positions of leadership. That becomes a time of prayerful consideration. We have to evaluate why we feel the way we do, make determinations according to Scripture, and seek out God-honoring counsel.
If it turns out that we are the cause of our own problems, then we need to face that, make a plan to move forward and make amends with those we may have hurt along the way, clear up misunderstandings and seek reconciliation. We may have settled for a system of our own making, for expectations that belonged to us but never came from God. If we have settled for human religion rather than the life-giving Gospel, then change must come for health to return. There cannot be an attachment to what we create over what God has given to us in Christ. The Holy Spirit is our guide for these moments, and we must come humbly seeking Him.
If, though, we find that we are the ones being impeded in our work for the Gospel, then we must walk from the opposite side of that same coin. We must still seek God-honoring counsel, consult with Scripture and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we feel we have been wronged, that the Gospel is being watered down, compromised, and that those we serve with are settling for something less than what God would have you do together for Jesus…then another set of conversations need to take place.
Either way, do not enter lightly into those conversations. Do not let anger carry you. Do not seek revenge. Do not seek to appear ‘right’ in front of others. This is a time to be bold and humble at the same time. Be bold for Christ, and be humble in regards to your own ego.
I highly recommend the book “Crucial Conversations” for moments like this, alongside of the wisdom of Solomon that is found in Proverbs and the letter by the apostle James. (Also see: The Emotionally Healthy Church, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality) These are moments where the enemy wants to gain a foothold, and we cannot settle for playing his games. We cannot succumb to being petty, backstabbing, gossiping and treating one another like we are enemies, when we are bound together in Christ.
I admit, I had a long stretch where I was not following my own advice on this. I was feeling let down, defeated, and I was disappointed. I came to a place where I felt those who should be my co-laborers in Christ were my greatest points of resistance. And we did not call the enemy out on it. We labored together in the wrong ways and those crucial conversations that should have taken place were refused in favor of ‘tabling them for a later, undetermined date.’ And that way is where deep disappointment lies, and where the enemy does some of his best work to divide God’s people.
Do not settle for that. Never settle for that. Fight for what is good. Pray together, seek reconciliation and do not let pride creep in and ruin that good work that the Gospel would do among you. And if you’re looking for a position with a church right now. Do not settle. Don’t intentionally walk into a situation where you can see that leadership settled a long time ago, and where the Gospel has been given over to comfort. Do not settle. Unless God wakes you up at night and places that body of believers on your heart night after night and inspires you with dreams over a group of people that you don’t even know…do not settle.
And if the day comes where you do need to part ways, let it be over things that make sense to all involved, and not over heated words. Come to the conclusion together. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to that place, if it is God’s will that you should choose different paths. But through it all, do not settle for anything less than what God has in store for you individually, and what He has in store for you corporately. We must be good stewards of our time here.
Do not settle. It translates into so many things when you do. Seek Christ. Resolve conflict in God-honoring ways, and look for opportunities to do amazing things, big or small, in His Name.