Wall Street could be a learning hall for believers. Sure, when we think of Wall Street we think of money and greed. We imagine women who put on heels and gray dresses or men who wear pressed suits and slip on refined leather shoes. But we could also learn a valuable trait that seems to be foundational for Wall Street – persistence. The end goal of the men and women behind the enterprise might be dollar signs, but they are serious enough to endure harsh words, deadly backstabs and long hours.
Can the same be said for us? The believers?
Dear Christ-followers, there is a difference between quitting something because it’s hard and because God asked us to quit.
Do Christians quit the ministry because it suddenly became difficult? Absolutely. But we get sneaky – just like the men and women on Wall Street – our guise simply looks different. We use phrases that Christian songs blare through our radios. We say, “God closed a door” or “It certainly shouldn’t be this hard with God’s favor.”
By doing this, we erase entire chunks of the Bible, diminish the lives of our martyred brothers and sisters, and devalue the understanding that we are truly overcomers.
Our call to ministry – the call we each have as cross-bearers – is one that requires persistence. It’s time to go press our suits, shine our shoes, put on thick skin and get after the call of Jesus Christ.
When We Keep Going
Joan of Arc, although quite the controversial character, is the poster child of persistence. As stated in Eric Metaxas’ book, Seven Women: And The Secrets To Their Greatness, imagine Joan of Arc as “a teenage farm girl (in the 1400s) entering the halls of the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and forcefully demanding to see the secretary of defense, saying that God had given her a plan to end all terrorism aimed at the US and her allies, and all she required was an army of soldiers with weapons.”
But she persisted.
Joan of Arc attempted to see the governor for six weeks. She would not relent, not even when the door was locked and he refused to see her. In fact, she went to the streets and told others her God-given message.
Can’t you hear yourself saying, “It shouldn’t be this hard?” Or, “This door is closed.” Certainly, we all can. We’ve been taught this lie to one degree to another, but could we have stepped into a lie when in fact, we are being disobedient?
The actual question becomes this – what could have been? What could have been if we were persistent? What beauty could have manifested from the hardship? Was the refinement meant to display more of God’s glory?
And some of us may sit and wonder for the rest of our lives.
The Real Choice
There comes a time when we quit. But that choice doesn’t come from a hard conversation, dwindling church numbers or even from a weary and tired soul. None of these constitute quitting grounds for the Christian. Friends will certainly encourage this – even godly ones – but our choices must come from a much more personal and spiritual level.
The only reason a Christian should quit is when he or she understands that God has led him or her to quit.
I hear many people say they knew when they were called to the ministry. “It was in the third grade!” they say. Or, “I Just know I am supposed to lead the women’s ministry at my church.” There is enthusiasm and joy coupled with wonder and anticipation. Within one year, two, or maybe 30, the same voice can be dry and sorrowful, “I must quit because (insert reasoning of any sort.)”
The question becomes: are we quitting because our call doesn’t look like what we expected? Or is it because God asked us to set down that calling and allow us to step into another?
I would argue that the same joy from our initial call could be felt and experienced in quitting if God is leading the decision. Instead, many of us feel sorrow and shame. Those that quit with sorrow and shame might question whether they are quitting from misplaced expectations. If God is truly the one asking us to end something, couldn’t we find joy and eager anticipation over what the future holds?
Our Hall of Fame
We have to look no further than Hebrews 11 to remember that it has always been the persistence of the saints that furthered the gospel. They fought hard and well. They were the Wall Street Warriors of the Gospel – enduring even when their fruit was unseen.
We remember that by faith the saints “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight” (Hebrews 11:33-34). These men and women did not quit when it got hard. They simply woke up earlier, shined their shoes brighter, put on the right attire and went into battle again. In fact, “they were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:37-38).
Is the world worthy of us? Or are we worthy of the world?
Believers, persistence is not just for the secular leadership books, nor is it for the men and women with pressed suits and shiny shoes. It is for us – for those with a greater call. Be careful and be led wisely. The world needs more persistent Christians – shiny shoes not required.