Maybe there is an aspect of God that is far too unnoticed? God is a Taker. We want the Lord to add to our lives, but don’t we also want Him to be a “Subtractor?” Who doesn’t think about God as a Giver? We are never more like God than when we give, right? “For God so loved the world, He gave…”(John 3:16). But divine math accentuates subtraction.
In October of every year, I take my staff through an annual planning process that charts a course for the following year of strategic ministry. Every year I emphasize three words that start with the letter “E.” In our planning, we must consider new areas of Expansion, current areas to Enhance, and inevitable areas that need to be Eliminated. It’s fairly easy for some to think of new frontiers of ministry and business and even to see areas in need of enhancement, but it is far more difficult to prune the tree (so to speak) through elimination.
What exists in your life that needs to be eliminated, cut off and done-away-with? Most pastors want to accumulate as many people as possible as often as possible and call it church. In reality, some divisive people need to go. Divisive complainers hinder the anointing on a ministry (see Psalm 133). That traditional ministry that no one cares about any more needs to go. Maybe some money needs to go? Maybe your ministry to the poor has become too enabling? There is a blessedness to subtraction.
What needs to go in your life? What relationship needs to go or be redefined? What expense is killing your finances? Why do you have to be in church every time the door is open? Maybe that needs to go. We are also called to have a life outside the church walls. Do you really need to sit on three boards? Do you really need two Bible studies and one small group meeting a week? Do you really need to work longer rather than smarter?
If you want expansion and enhancement then you also want elimination. More elimination means less stress. Simplify. Prioritize. More elimination means more opportunities to work on your strengths. Prune the tree of death and make room for new growth and excitement.
After considering the need for subtraction in your life, perhaps you will easily identify some baggage that you and the Lord agree need to be removed. We want the Lord to be a “Taker.” He wants to be a “Taker.”
He took you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. He wants you to decrease and He to increase in life. He wants to take your sin so that He can enjoy more of your heart. He may want you to move on from that toxic dating relationship so He can introduce you to your spouse. He may want to add to your life, but He may need to subtract something or someone first.
What will 2019 look like if you process such strategic things now rather than in the first week of January? You will enjoy your life on a much deeper level if you discover the blessedness of subtraction. May you and the Lord, and me and the Lord, add up what is most important in life through subtraction, addition and multiplication with little to no division in our resolve to seek first the kingdom of God!
Dr. Gary Hewins is the President of lifepoints.org, a coaching and consulting ministry to ministry leaders and preachers and the Senior Pastor of Community Bible Church in the picturesque mountains of Highlands, N.C.