James Merritt - When Push Comes to Shove
My mentor was Dr. Adrian Rogers, and I remember when I had my first church out of seminary, I went to see him. He taught me more in a day about preaching and pastoring than I learned in seven years at seminary. He gave me a piece of advice I've never forgotten. And I want to share it with you you today because it has something to do with all of us in this room. He was talking about how difficult and how stressful and how pressurized the ministry can be. And here's what he said to me, he said, "Jim, I want you to write this down". He said, "You don't have to burn out and you don't have to rust out. You can last out".
And I've never forgotten that. And I've learned since then, it's a great piece of advice, but it's easier said than done. And so I'm going to throw some words up on the screen and I just want to ask you if any or all of these words maybe describe how you're feeling right now, or how you felt in recent days. Here's one. Overwhelmed. You would think at my age and stage of life I wouldn't be, but I am. To this day, I'm busier, honest to goodness, than I've ever been. And there are days I feel like I can't get to everything I want to. I can't read every book I want to read. I can't see everybody I want to see, I can't do everything I want to do, I can't take every speaking engagement I'm invited to. I can't get it all. I feel overwhelmed. Maybe you're overworked.
There are people that don't come to church, they didn't come to church today, you know why? They work six days a week and they made up their mind, this is my day off, I'm not going to church, I'll stay home, I'll watch the service in bed or whatever. I'm just too tired. This is my day. Overworked. Or maybe you're over committed. You know deep down that part of your problem is you. You've committed to too many things and you can't do all that you need to do. And by the way, this is going to be a very interesting message, and I have to give you some good news. I really came here today worried about this message. Let me tell you why. Even one of the guys that helps me with my messages, that helps edit my messages, he said, "This is going to be a very business-like sermon. Don't know how relevant it's going to be".
Well, I just learned between services, we got probably more feedback on this message today than I get in a lot of messages, which really shocked me because what I'm going to talk about today can be true about you and relevant to you whether you are a Fortune 500 CEO or you're a stay-at-home mom. Doesn't matter whether you're the president of the United States or the president of the PTA, it doesn't matter whether you're a cashier at a grocery store or a lawyer in a courtroom. The truth of the matter is this is a huge growing problem that we call burnout.
Now, I didn't know this. The world, every year, loses over $1 trillion in productivity because of burnout. This year in America, we will spend, listen to this, we will spend $190 billion in healthcare because of burnout. In the United States alone, 120,000 people will die because of burnout. Experts are now referring to what they call "The Burnout Epidemic". They did a study of 7,500 full-time American workers; they found that more than 70% of adults, now listen to this, more than 70% of adults in their 20s and 30s say they are experiencing burnout. Now, if that scientific evidence holds, that means that the majority of people in the workforce today are going to burnout before they hit the age of 40 years of age. It is indeed an epidemic. And by the way, you think it gets better with age, but it doesn't.
There are days I feel all stressed up and no place to go. I'm just absolutely stressed out. Well, if you're joining us today, we've been in a series of messages we've been calling "Red Sea Moments". We're studying the life of Moses and one of the things we learned about Moses is yeah, Moses was a great man and Moses was a godly man, and Moses was a good man, but Moses was not a perfect man. And Moses had problems like we have problem. Moses went through stuff like we go through stuff. And today, if you brought a copy of God's word turn to the second book of Exodus, we're in chapter 18, you're going to find out Moses was on the verge of burnout. And think about it; he's leading a company, a corporation called Israel. He's got 2 million employees. He is the CEO. He is the CFO. He is the COO. He turns out the lights. He turns on the lights. He opens the doors. He locks the doors. He is doing everything.
And he's leading these people through the wilderness and he is about to collapse, he's about come to the end of his rope and he gets some unbelievable, unexpected advice from the least expected consultant that you could imagine. But this man literally salvaged his ministry and this man literally saved his life. What I'm going to share with you today is some advice that will benefit you, it will relate to you whether you're a stay-at-home mom with two toddlers or you're the president of a big business. It doesn't matter. You may be a school teacher, you may be the principal. You may be a policeman, you may be the chief of police. You be a private, you may be a general, it doesn't matter. What you're going to read today is so relevant to where many of us are. Moses took three simple steps that kept him from burnout that you can take as well.
And by the way, I really do believe this, I'm going to go ahead and say this, I said this later today so I'm going to say it right. I don't believe anybody continuously stays on the verge of burnout more than a stay-at-home mom with small children. And by the way, if you're a husband and you've got a wife, you got one or two or three kids in their terrible twos or terrific threes, don't you ever go home and walk in and say, "And what have you been doing all day"? I'll do your funeral for free. So with that in mind, three steps. Number one, honestly evaluate what you need to do. Honestly evaluate what you need to do.
Now, here's what had happened: Moses had left his life and his two kids with Jethro back home in Midian while he's leading his people through the wilderness. Well, Jethro finally decides, "Moses, it's time for you to be a husband. It's time for you to be a dad". And so Jethro takes his family and he brings his family to Moses and reunites them. He thinks it's going to be great. He's going to be so glad to see his wife and so glad to see his kids, except there's one problem. He doesn't have any time for his wife. He doesn't have any time for his kids. And what he sees Moses doing makes him decide to become the first management consultant in the Bible if not history. We're going to pick up the story, Exodus 18, verse 13. "The next day Moses took his seat to serve his judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people he said, 'What is this you're doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge while all these people stand around from you mourning until he evening?'"
Now he walks in and here's what he sees. Moses is working sun up to sundown. Late at night, early in the morning. Getting very little sleep, meeting with person after person, answering questions, solving problems, mediating disputes, and he asked two great questions. "What are you doing"? "Why are you doing it alone"? He asked Moses two questions. One is a priority question. What are you doing? One is a personnel question. Why are you doing it alone? And behind all those questions is a principal I want you to remember. Nobody, listen carefully, nobody has all the gifts and all the time and all the energy that needs all to be done in any job in the world. Nobody has all the time, all the energy and all of the gifts to do everything that needs to be done in any job in the world.
Now, let's give Moses some credit. The reason why Moses is just about to burn out is because he was honestly earning his burnout. He wasn't lazy, he wasn't procrastinating. Sometimes we do that. We put ourselves under stress because we procrastinate. We put off today, tomorrow, what we ought to do today, or we just decide we're going to try to shirk it and just not let it get done, or we just decide there are other things better for us to do. Moses wasn't doing that. He says, "Look, somebody's got to judge these people. Somebody's got to mediate these disputes. Somebody's got to answer these questions". So he's arriving on time, he's getting at the office before sunrise, he's not leaving before sun down, he's working six days a week, he's not taking any vacation, no time off, no holiday, he is the classic workaholic.
By the way, somebody has observed this, and it's so true. "Workaholism is the most rewarded addiction in the nation. You can be fired for drinking too much, but working too much usually gets you promoted. It also gets you a raise". That's true. But I got news for some of you. I don't care how much of a super hero you think you are, we all have limits. We all have limits to the load that we can carry. One of these days you ought to notice this; get behind one of these big, massive tractor trailers. They got these unbelievably huge engines. They got out this fantastic horsepower. But if you look on the back of the bumper, they'll have a sign there and it says, "Load limit". That truck is telling you, "I know I'm big, and I know I'm strong, and I know I'm powerful, and I've got twice the engine you've got and three times the horsepower you've got, but even my truck has limits".
Well, if a massive tractor trailer has load limits, don't you think you've got load limits? Don't you think there's a limit where you get to a point you say, "Okay, I can't do any more". So here's what Moses does: he tries to get out of it. He gives an explanation and he gives an excuse, but neither one of them worked. Here's what he said: "Moses answered him," here's why I'm working from sun up to some down. "Because the people come to me to seek God's will". Let me stop right there cause I'm going to ride a hobby horse for just a minute. What Moses was saying was, "I'm letting them set my schedule". "I'm letting the people set my schedule". "'Whenever they have a dispute, it's brought to me and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and instructions.' Moses father-in-law replied, 'What you're doing is not good. You and these people who come to you only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.'"
That Hebrew word for "wear yourself out" is a really interesting word. It means to collapse in exhaustion. It means to wither away. It literally means to become old. In other words, here's what he was saying to Moses, "Moses, do you know what you're doing? You're taking years off your life. You're growing old before your time. You're not going to last out. You're going to burnout. You're going to rust out". Teresa and I, if you come to our house, Teresa and I, and you walk into our house, we have a grandfather clock. We bought it from a dear friend many, many years ago. It's kind of an antique grandfather clock. We'd never had one before.
So we were smart enough, we called in an expert, a clock maker, a man that knows clocks, cause we wanted to make sure we took good care of this clock. So the man came in and he cleaned the clock and he examined the clock and then he gave us a card. And he said, "Now, there are two things you got to remember about this clock, and you'll always take care of it. There are two dangers with the clock". Here's what he told us: "Number one, never let the clock run down. Number two, never wind the clock too tight". Never let the clock run down, never wind the clock too tight. I hate to tell some of you this as beautiful as you are and as handsome as you are and as much as you work out and as much as you try to look your Sunday best, you're just an old grandfather clock. Every one of you. You cannot let yourself get run down and you cannot let yourself get wound too tight.
The leadership guru, Peter Drucker said this: He said, "Nothing else distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender, loving care of time. Unless he manages himself effectively, no amount of ability, skill, experience, or knowledge will make an executive effective". First thing you got to do, I had to do it when I started my ministry, you got to evaluate what only you can do and spend your time doing those things. Now, that sounds good. But if you don't take the next step, you just wasted your time and you'll be back in the same burnout boat you're in right now. Because once you honestly evaluate what you can do, then you have to humbly delegate what others can do. You honestly evaluate what you can do, then you humbly delegate what others can do.
So, even though Jethro's giving Moses this advice, by the way for free, should have paid big money for it, here's what Jethro says to Moses, he said, "Moses, here's what you need to do; select capable men from all the people. Men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times". Now watch this. "Have them bring every difficult case to you". Moses, that's what you need to do. That's your job. Nobody else can do that job like you can. Nobody else can do the job like you and nobody else should do the job of you. That's your job. "The simple cases, they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter because they will share it with you".
Now, it may sound like that's pretty simple. Because after all, Moses may not have realized it at the time, but his father-in-law just given him one of the greatest practical leadership lessons and one of the best practices anybody will ever learn. It's so very simple. You evaluate those things that only you can do and you delegate things that others can do. It's not that hard. It's just sanctified common sense, right? Give you an example. If you try to pick up something with one hand and you can't do it, what would be the next thing you'd do? Somebody tell me. You try two hands, right? Suppose you can't do it with two hands. What do you do? You get two more hands because two hands are better than one, four hands are better than two. You say, "What's your point"?
If you can't handle a load with both hands, here's the problem; it is not the size of the job that stresses you out. See, there's some of you right now, you're already mad at me. You're saying, "You know what? Let me tell you something, big boy, you don't know what I do. You don't have any idea what my job is. You see, you just don't get it. My job is too big for me, that's why I am burning out". Let me tell you something. If your job is too big for you, that is God's way of trying to tell you that there's some parts of that job you've got to find a way to delegate to somebody else. You have got to find a way to do it. When young pastors say to me, "Hey, what's the greatest leadership lesson you've ever learned"? Here's what I tell them: "Delegate to others what others can do, so you can concentrate on the things that only you can do".
I'm going to let you a little secret. There's a lot of things I could spend my time doing as a pastor. I'll just give you one. I literally could go in my office from 9:00 to 5:00 every day, five days a week and do nothing but counsel with people. I could do it. I got people want to see me all the time. I could. I've told you before, I'm not a good counselor. I've told you, I'm not a good listener. I've said this a thousand times, "If you come to me depressed, you will leave suicidal".
I am not a good counselor. That's not my gift. I could do that. But there's one thing, one thing, I cannot delegate to anybody. There's one thing I cannot let anybody else do. There's one thing, as the pastor of this church, only I can do. And it's what I'm doing right now. Right here. I can't delegate that to Mike. I can't delegate that to Bruce. I can't delegate that to Riley. I can't delegate that to Austin. I can only do that. And it took me a while to realize, and Dr. Rogers helped me. What I'm doing right now is the best thing I can do for this church. What I'm doing right now is the best thing that I can do to bring the most value to this church. So what do I do? Then I look at things I don't do well. Counseling. I do some counseling, I don't do a lot, I do some. But I don't mind telling you the vast majority of counseling, we've got other people on staff that do it and do it better and even enjoy it.
So I delegate that. There are just certain things. And I've learned I need to concentrate on what I can do. And here's why. I hate to burst bubbles in this room today. I hate to say this to you, ma'am, I hate to say this to you, sir, nobody is indispensable. Everybody's important. You're sitting there you say, "Oh, you don't understand James. You don't understand. Nobody can do my job like I can do it". I tell you what. Die. They'll find somebody to do your job. The most powerful man in the world. It doesn't matter whether he's Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump or Joe Biden, the most important, powerful man in the world is not indispensable. God forbid, but if Joe Biden dies of a heart attack today, the country's not going under. Nobody's indispensable, but everybody is important. And anytime you're stressed out because you think you got a job that's bigger than you, it is God's way of telling you you're doing too much. Don't do it alone.
Listen, there are two parts to every job, I'm going to make this as easy as I can, there are two parts to every job. I don't care what job you've got, there are two parts to your job, two parts to my job. There's the essential part, that's the part only you can do, and then there's the supplemental part, that's the part somebody else can do. Here's where we get stressed out. Here's where we start burning out. We start spending all of our time or too much of our time doing the supplemental part and we're not doing what we ought do in the essential part. And when we start taking up more and more of the supplemental part, guess what? The ship begins a sink because the load is too heavy.
Now here's the truth of the matter. I tell guys this all the time. I've seen too many pastors burn out. "If you don't give up your crack up". "If you don't give up your crack up". If you do not realize, you know what? I have got to delegate this. If you don't your load lighter, by the way, that word means to take cargo off of a ship. Let me tell you something else Peter Drucker said, he was in a seminar one time and he was taking questions. Somebody asked him, this is a fantastic question, somebody asked him this question, they said, "Mr. Drucker, what is the most important decision an executive will ever make"? He gave a three word answer, it's simple, but it's brilliant. What is the most important decision an executive will ever make? He said, "It's this: who does what"? "Who does what"?
See, I realized early on in my ministry; you know what? I've got to do this. I can do that, but I don't have to do that. I'm not even good at doing that. So I'm going to find people that can do that. And I'm going to get people who can do that and I'm going to let them do that. I'm going to give it all to them. I'm going to let them do it.
I read a story, I love this story cause it relates to me. There was a pastor that pastored a church for about 35 years, it was a country church, and he pastored the church about 35 years and he finally retired. So they hired this new young pastor to come in and you know what new young pastors do, they start making some changes, good changes. But he started making some changes. So some of the people started kind of getting annoyed and because people don't like change. Well, they really came out in full force when he hired a man full-time to take care of the church, to mow the grass and to keep the flower bed rooted out and to paint what needed to be painted and fix what needed to fixed and do all the maintenance around the church. He hired a got to do that. Well, the finance committee decided that this is bad, this is not good.
So they held a special meeting, they called the pastor in and the chairman said, "Pastor, we love you, but we we've got to talk to you about something". He said, "Yeah, what is it"? He said, "Well, we see you've hired a maintenance person". He said, "Well, yes I did". He said, "Well, we got a problem with that". And the pastor said, "Well, we have the money. And you'll notice in the new budget, that I set aside a budget for that item". And he said, "Well, yeah, we know that". And he said, "And by the way, this guy's doing a fantastic job". The chairman said, "Well, yeah he is," but he said, "here's the problem: the previous pastor did all that. The previous pastor mowed the grass, and the previous pastor weeded the flowers, and the previous pastor painted the church". And the pastor said, "Okay". The chairman said, "Well"? He said, "Well, I called the previous pastor and he said he didn't want to do it anymore".
Can I just be honest? There are a lot of churches and probably some of you come to this church and you think, you know what? We pay you to do the work of the church. No you don't. You don't pay me to do the work of the church. Number one, I can't do the work of the church. It is impossible for one man to do the work of the church. Even more, that's not even my job description. You know what my job is? My job is to equip you to do the work of the church. So let me let you in on a secret. I was telling Ryan a minute ago, I said, "You see all these empty chairs? You know what that is"? He said, "What"? I said, "That's a challenge," and I love challenges.
Can I be honest? You know whose job it is to grow this service? Yours. Your job. Not my job. It's our job. While I'm in the neighborhood, I do not go a week I don't invite somebody to come to our church that doesn't go to church. I don't go a week I don't give somebody a share card. I don't go a week I don't have spiritual conversations. This is your assignment. This is your assignment every week. I'm going to tell you. We've got the people to fill this building up, that ain't our problem. What we need are people are willing to say, "You know what, pastor? I realize that is my job. That empty chair, pastor, next to me, that's my job. I'm going to do my best to fill that chair next week". It's not my job, it's your job, it's our job, it's all of our jobs.
So the point I'm making is very simply. I equip you to do the work of the church so I can do more of what I ought to do. And what I've learned is when I concentrate more on what I'm effective at doing, I actually do a better job than when I try to do everything else. Now, when you do delegate, one of the biggest mistakes I've made in my ministry is hiring the wrong people. When you delegate, you got to to four things. Find the right people, give them the right job, make sure that that's what they want to do and they've got the gift to do it, trust them to do the right thing, and delegate the result not the process.
Theodore Roosevelt said, "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it". One of the reasons why staff like to work with me, and they do. You can talk to any of our staff people, they won't lie to you. They don't work for me, they work with me, we all work for Jesus. They work with me. You know why? Because when we bring people on, we give them a job description. You're the high school pastor. You're the middle school pastor. You're the children's pastor. You're the groups pastor. You're the executive pastor. You're the financial pastor. We give them a job, we let them know this is what you're going to do. Then you know what I do? I let them do it. I don't micromanage.
You say, "Well, pastor, aren't there things you see them do you wish they do differently"? Absolutely. Are there things that they do that you wouldn't do it that way, you'd do it another way? Absolutely. I got news for you. Some of you would pastor this church differently if you were the pastor, but you're not the pastor. But what I've learned to do is this; you want good people? Hire good people. And when you hire them, let them do their job and encourage them and don't try to do what they're doing. Now, if you are a control freak, and you think, "You don't understand, nobody can do this as well as I can". Maybe they can, maybe they can't. That is not the issue. The question is not, "Can somebody do that job better than you"? The question is, "Is that the job you ought to be doing"?
Cause you know what? I can visit hospitals and I do sometimes. I can minister to sick people and I do sometimes. But are there people that have the gift of mercy that I don't? I don't have the gift of mercy, by the way. Ask Jack. I don't have the gift of mercy. That's not my gift. But we have people that have that gift. Well, I let them exercise that gift. So if you're one of those, you're a control freak, I'm going to tell you right now, you better humble yourself, you better swallow your ego, you better get rid of your pride, you got to realize I am not indispensable, but everybody is important. By the way, let me just say this to you cause I'm kind of in the ballpark.
Since I started my ministry, I've always had my study at home. I don't have my study at the church. You know why? Number one, you can't study at the church. Try it, I've tried, you can't do it. Always somebody knocking at your door. Number two, I get more done in two hours in my study than I get done in three hours at the church. Number three, the most important thing that I do for this church is not when I'm at the church, it's when I'm in my study. And number four, let me tell you something else, you may say, "What do you do in your study"? If this doesn't tell you what I do in my study, I can't help you. This is the most important thing I do.
When I'm at home on my day off, you know where I am? I'm in my study. And we're going to talk about that more in a moment. But please understand, I practice what I preach here. I had to honestly evaluate; what do I do best? And what is it that God has called me? And oh, by the way, while I'm in the neighborhood, I'll just go ahead and take one other monkey. I'm in a good mood today. We're number one in the country. Who wouldn't be in a good mood? You say, "We're not number one". Wrong team. I can't help you. I've had people say to me, and they meant well, they say, "You're really a great preacher, but you're not the best pastor". And the reason they say that is because they think a pastor, if my third cousin, who never attends your church, has an in grown toenail, you ought to go see her. Or if I've got a problem, even if somebody else on the staff can solve it, I ought have the right to come and talk to you about it.
So I'm just going to say this and move on. I can go visit ingrown toenails with the best of them. I can do all those things, not that they're not important, they're important, people need to be ministered to and I do my share. But the most important thing I will ever do for you is to be in my study and get prepared and feed you the word of God. That is the most important thing that I will ever do for this church, and I don't apologize for that, I don't back up from that. That's what I do best. Now having said that, watch this. If some of you workaholics out there, and God love you. And if some of you people who are stressed to the max, God love you. And if some of you people are sacrificing your family on the alter of your job, God help you. If that's you, I make a promise. If you will humbly evaluate, if you will honestly evaluate what you need to be doing, and if you will humbly delegate what others can be doing, watch this, you will happily appreciate all that God will do.
Now, watch how this works out. Some of you may think, "Man, I could have gotten this from a secular seminar. I could have gotten this from a leadership consultant. This is not very spiritual". Oh, no, no, no. It is very spiritual. It is completely spiritual. As a matter of fact, there is a real spiritual dimension to all of this, cause go back to the first piece of advice that Jethro gave Moses. You may have missed it. "Listen now to me and I'll give you some advice". Now watch this, "And may God be with you". Wait a minute, what's God got to do this? I thought this was just kind of leadership principles. I thought this was Leadership 101. "You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave".
Now we come to the crux of the problem. And it's going to be right where y'all live every single day. You know why Moses was on the verge of burnout? He was spending too much time talking to the people about God and not enough time talking to God about the people. That's why I spend a lot of my time, and I do spend a lot of my time talking to God about you. Because I only then can be prepared to talk to you about God. But that was the problem. Think about your own schedule. One of three people going to set your schedule. Somebody else is going to set your schedule, you're going to set your schedule, or God's going to set your schedule. So I made up my mind early in my ministry. You know what, Lord? I'm going to let you set my schedule. Cause I know if I let you set my schedule, I'll do what you want me to do.
So, God, through Jethro, tells Moses, "Moses, you ought be concentrating on two things. You're doing way too much. You ought be concentrating on two things for your people. You ought to intercede for them and you ought to instruct them". Did you hear what he said? Go to God with their problems and teach them my decrees and my instructions. Guess what? Back in the New Testament, they had a problem. You may remember this, if you don't, I'll refresh your memory. Early churches just getting started and they already got a church fight going on. They had Jewish widows and Greek widows, and the Greek widows said, "We don't get enough," they were evidently feeding these widows, and they were saying, "You know what? You're giving the Jewish widows more than you're giving us. We're not getting our share of the food. You guys ought do something about it".
They were talking to the disciples. You know what the disciples did? They formed a group of men called Deacons. They got seven men together and they said, "Guys, we don't have the time, we don't have the bandwidth to handle this problem. That's going to be your job. We could do it, but to that's not what we need to be doing. You're going to do it. We want you to do this job". Why did they want them to do the job? They said, "Because here's what we're going to do". Now watch this. "We will give our attention to prayer". That is, we're going to talk to God about the people, "and the ministry of the word". Then we're going to tell the people what God wants them to do. Cause when you're doing what you believe God wants you to do, you can trust God to do the other things that other people can't do.
Now, this is really going to hit home. I'm to give myself to prayer and to the ministry of the word; that's what the Bible teaches. You know what? So are you. So I'm going to just say this; if you are so busy with your schedule every day that you do not take time every day to get into God's word and spend time in prayer, you are too busy. You're doing what you shouldn't be doing and you're doing too much of what you shouldn't be doing. You've got to give yourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. And I'll tell you what I've learned. Try this for 30 days. If it means you got to get up 10 or 15 minutes earlier every day, if it's just one chapter, read one chapter of this book. Pour your heart out to of God. Set a timer. I'm asking you 10, 15 minutes. Guarantee your day will go better. Guarantee you'll be stronger. Guarantee you'll be wiser. Guarantee you'll be more confident that you're walking with God.
When you just take the, "Oh, I'm too busy". If you're too busy for God, you are too busy. Moses, do this so you can pray and intercede for the people. Now, by the way, I'm going to close this with this story. Cause I know some of you're still thinking, "Yeah, I hear what you're saying, but I didn't really need to. I mean, can you really back this up from the Bible other than what you just said"? Let me show you how I know I'm right in everything I've told you. Because even Jesus practiced what I just preached. I'm going to share with you a story and I'm going to show you something I bet you've never seen before. How many of you know the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead? How many of you know that story?
All right, for some of you didn't raise your hand, let me tell you what's going on. Jesus had a family that were like his second family. Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Two sisters and a brother. They lived in a village called Bethany. If you go to Israel with me, we'll go to the village of Bethany where Jesus would stay. Whenever Jesus went to Jerusalem, I don't know if you know this or not, he didn't stay at Holiday Inn Express or a Motel 6. When Jesus went to Jerusalem, he would always stay with Martha and Mary and Lazarus. They were his second family. And Lazarus, he and Lazarus were big buds. Well, Lazarus dies. And Jesus knows that Lazarus is dead. In fact, he stays away several days because he wants to prove he's got the power over life and death.
In his heart he thinks it's time, he says, "Okay, now we're going to go to Bethany". So they go to Bethany, everybody's crying, everybody's weeping, everybody's wailing, everybody's mourning cause Lazarus is dead. He's been dead four days. I mean, he is graveyard dead. Deader than 11:00 in an average Baptist church. He is dead. And you know the story. He's about to raise Lazarus from the dead, right? But just before he calls him out, we read something. And I'll bet you, most of you have never noticed it. Watch this. "Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance". And he says, "Take away the stone".
What? I don't want to accuse Jesus of being lazy. If you can raise that guy from the dead, you can take away the stone. You could do that. You ever notice that? Jesus could have snapped his fingers and that stone would have rolled away. He said, "By the way, guys, I need some of you men to move that stone". Why did Jesus do that? He was teaching us the principle. "Guys, I'm not in the stone moving business, that's your job. I'm in the dead raising business. That's my job. I'm going to concentrate on what I can do so you can do what you can do". And you know what? Guess what? I don't know who those men were that day. I don't know who did it. But can you imagine the story they were able to tell? "Hey, did you ever hear about Lazarus being raised from the dead"? "Did I hear about it? We moved the stone".
Jesus gave us the privilege of having a part in that story. Now what's the point? Here's the point. You're overwhelmed? Yeah, I am, pastor. You overworked? Yeah, I am, pastor. You over committed? Man, am I ever. I'll tell you what you do. You honestly evaluate what only you can do. You humbly delegate what others can do. And then you'll happily appreciate what God will do. And if you don't think, by the way, this is a spiritual piece of advice, let me just close with this; there are so many people that think when they die, they're going to go to Heaven.
Do you know why they think they're going to go to Heaven? They've already got it figured out. They're going to stand before God. They're going to say, "Lord, not only do I know you should let me into Heaven, you're going to be thrilled that I'm going to let you let me into Heaven. Cause I never drank, I never smoked, I didn't rob a bank, I didn't kill anybody, I paid my taxes, I was faithful to my wife, I was good to my children, I worked hard at my job, I never cussed, I'm telling you, I never even got a speeding ticket. What do you have to say about that"? You know what God's going to say? You got one problem: that wasn't your job and you couldn't do it anyway.
Do you know the only way you can be saved? You've got to delegate your salvation to the only one that can save you. You've got to delegate what only he can do. Your job is not to save yourself because you can't. Your job is to surrender yourself to the only one who can. And what even the cross of Christ tells us is this; even Jesus couldn't delegate what he did on the cross to anybody else. Not to angels, not to principalities, not to power. And what the cross tells us every day is just the same thing I preached to you this morning. My job is to die for you. My job is to come back from the grave. My job is to save you. Your job is to repent and believe. And when you do, then you live happily ever after.
Would you bow your heads in prayer for just a minute? You're in this room or you're watching me right now, I just want to say this to you; you can't save yourself. Salvation is not a do it yourself project. You can't save yourself. That's God's job. And there are people maybe listening to me right now in this room, or you're watching right now, and you know what you've done? You think, "Well, I thought salvation was I got to do it myself". You can't do it yourself. You can't. Not only will you burnout, but if you die without Jesus, you're going to burn up. Why don't you today say:
Lord, I realize now salvation's not my job. It's your job. My job is to confess I'm a sinner that needs a savior. My job is to repent of my sins. My job is to put my faith and my trust in you. My job is to trust you as my Lord. And I want to do my job right now. Today, I confess you as my Lord. Today, I repent of my sin. Today, I surrender my life.