You Only Get Rid Of . . .

You only get rid of what you refuse to get used to.

I can hardly tell you how much I believe this, or how vital I think it is in both individual and organizational lives. And I believe it so much because I’ve lived it. In 2010, we who made up the leadership of Good Shepherd Church felt like we’d been plateauing for a few years. So we brought in some fresh eyes in the form of a consultant, and though we didn’t know it at the time, he turned out to be our modern-day Nehemiah! He inspected our walls and gates every bit as thoroughly as Nehemiah inspected Jerusalem. And he opened our eyes to all the things we had gotten used to, all the things that were wrong but that we no longer saw anymore.

He helped us see, for instance, that we were “branding the bullet but not the gun,” meaning that we had great sermon series but the church as a whole lacked direction. He helped us see that some of our signage in the parking lot was confusing at best and unwelcoming at worst. He showed us how our exterior wall space was largely empty, and opened our eyes to ways this space could be used to fulfill our mission. For us, the exterior wall space was simply how our church building looked. The parking lot signs were just part of the scenery, and we’d been around them enough to stop seeing them as visitors did.

This modern-day Nehemiah opened our eyes to the things we needed to refuse to get used to, and we were able to get rid of them. We changed our signage to be more visitor-friendly and helpful. We used our exterior wall space to display a banner that told people who we are at Good Shepherd and what we are about. And while our sermon series are still pretty good, they all serve the church’s larger mission of Inviting All People into a Living Relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything we do now supports that mission; it gives us direction and guides us toward our purpose. And it’s all because that modern-day Nehemiah helped us to see all the harmful stuff that we had settled for and learned to coexist with. You only get rid of what you refuse to get used to.




There is an important step in twelve-step recovery programs that goes like this: “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” I love that. It’s really a way of saying that as part of addiction recovery, you take a merciless magnifying glass to look at your own stuff. It’s doing the work in your own life that Nehemiah did with Jerusalem’s gates and walls. It’s taking a note of every broken down wall or burned-out gate, everything that is out of place in your own heart and life, so that you can begin to make repairs.

So I have to ask: What about you have you gotten used to? What is the stuff that clutters up your life, which you should never have tolerated but which you have stopped noticing?  Is it smoking? Habitual laziness? Cutting off your mind via video entertainment? Selfishness? Anger? Or maybe it’s something you have gotten used to in your relationships with others. Have you gotten used to someone’s complaining, or inattentiveness, or lack of affection? Have you gotten used to your own personal insecurity? Where in your life have you settled? What is needed for you to open your eyes and notice the clutter, so that you can stop getting used to it and start getting rid of it?


You only get rid of what you refuse to get used to.


This post is excerpted from Solve:  Finding God’s Solutions In A World Of Problems, available now from Abingdon Press.  You can order it here.