Summary: How to resign from ministry
Intro: One of the things no one likes is to be a failure. We live in a very “success-oriented” society. Many judge their value as an individual on the basis of their success. Yet there are some times in our lives when the world sees a failure and God sees a success. One of those times involves “quitting.”
I remember in high school, we got a new principal, Ralph Bass. Ralph loved wrestling, and decided he would form a wrestling team. He took all the guys in the gym, lined them up, and extolled the virtues of wrestling. He tried to get commitments from them all to join his wrestling team. I was one of the fortunate ones who never joined up. For the others, many joined under force or coercion, and later ended up quitting the team. In the ensuing weeks in the chapel time, Ralph would preach about “quitting” and put down those “quitters”. He’d say, “you’re a quitter - no backbone - spineless character!” We came away thinking a quitter was about as low as you could get. But, is that really true?
This morning we want to look at quitting, retiring, stepping down, and see a man of God who quit, who was also a success for God. His name is Samuel. Turn with me first this morning to 1 Samuel 8. Read 1 Samuel 8:6-9 PRAY
Let’s look at principles we can learn about stepping down.
I. Lessons from the life of Samuel
A. Sometimes it is God’s will to step down
Here in verse 7 we see that God tells Samuel he is supposed to step down. Even though the people are wrong for wanting a king, yet Samuel is right to obey the Lord and step down. It is easy to get the idea in our society that any time you quit you are a failure. God tells Samuel here that the people are not rejecting Samuel, they are rejecting God.
Why do Christian ministries fail? Sometimes it is not the leader of the ministry who fails, but the people who fail to support the ministry. Samuel had been faithful to God, God had been faithful to the people, but the people had not been faithful to God.
One of the first tests to take when you are considering quitting something is this: is it God’s will for me to quit? It is easy to do things for the wrong motive. Here Samuel’s heart is right. He really does not want to give the people a king, yet he knows that that is what God wants him to do.
B. Sometimes stepping down is not your choice
Here in verse 7, we see that the people have not given Samuel a lot of choice. They want a king. There are times when it comes to stepping down that we don’t have a lot of say. Your boss walks in, says the company is restructuring, and you can either take early retirement or be terminated. That doesn’t make you a failure. In fact, you may be the most faithful employee the company has. Yet yours may be the job to be eliminated. Remember that God looks for faithfulness, not success.
Here we see it was the heart of the people that wanted a king. Samuel had been faithful to God.
C. Sometimes we step down because our job is finished.
Samuel had served the people faithfully for years. Now at the end of his life, even if they had not asked for a king, he would have been at the point of retirement. Look with me in 1 Samuel chapter 12. Read 12:1-2 Samuel had served the people faithfully. He was at the point of stepping down. Sometimes we think that we can never get to the point of finishing a job. While we should be faithful to God all our life, there are times in our life where we step down and let someone else take over. Paul reached that point in 2 Timothy 4:6-7 - when he said, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
D. Stepping down is good when our testimony has been consistent.
Look in 1 Sam. 12:3-5. At the end of Samuel’s ministry, he looks back and offers anyone the chance to speak up and accuse him of wrongdoing. No one is able to lay any accusation against him. In our society, leaders do wrong and then try to justify it on the basis of semantics, “Well, I never actually did lie, because if you look at the technical definition . . .” Samuel simply asks the question, “Can anyone point a finger at me?” And no one can. May each of us have that kind of life. There are those who step down because of wrongdoing: they are given an ultimatum, quit or be fired. Samuel steps down with a clear reputation.