Sandwiched between two of the most epic biblical biographies—Noah and Abraham—is the short, sad story of a man who “settled.”
“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there” (Genesis 11:31).
Abraham’s father Terah originally “set out” to lead his large family from Ur to Canaan. When they got about halfway to Canaan, Terah decided to “settle” down in Haran instead of pressing on. Haran was the land of comfort, but Canaan was the land of promise. Where are you living right now?
I have noticed three areas of mediocrity that Christian leaders like us sometimes settle into. I dare you to ask yourself these three hard questions:
Have you settled into a lukewarm love for God?
At first I assumed Terah opted for the comfort of his new Mesopotamian home over the unforeseen challenges of Canaan due to a lapse of faith. Then I read Abraham’s testimony from Joshua’s vantage point:
“Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods…” (Josh 24:2).
Well that explains a lot! Terah didn’t give a rip about what God wanted because he didn’t know or love Him. I respect Abraham for not only leaving the security of his father’s home, but also the familiarity of his father’s faith.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
Have you settled into a mediocre marriage?
Do you have a plan for spending quality time with your spouse? Some married couples wrongly assume that successful marriages come naturally and effortlessly. Janet and I have tried very hard to spend some quality time every day; go on some type of date every week; take an overnight trip every quarter; and take a vacation every year. Expensive? Yes. Inconvenient? Often. But counseling is also inconvenient and divorce is always expensive.
There is no such thing as benign neglect. Your calendar is also your journal, so check it out. It doesn’t lie or exaggerate (not sure there is a difference).
Maybe it is time to step up your game as you go and stop coasting on old ideas. Stop settling! Tried and true may eventually become crash and burn.
“Live with your wives in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7).
Have you settled into a comfortable career?
Why didn’t Terah go all the way to the promised land with his son Abraham? He had already traveled over 600 miles and only had 450 more to go. Age was unlikely his defining issue because he lived for another 70 years.
I think Terah simply got comfortable in Haran, which must have been paradise compared to Ur. Haran literally means “caravan route,” as it was conveniently located on the Euphrates River (Syria). By comparison, Ur was a desert land, located 220 miles SE of Bagdad. I have been to Iraq, Syria and Israel. I can see why Terah settled in Syria. Why risk an adventure into Canaan, which was largely undeveloped and full of unknowns?
How many of us have settled in Haran? Played it safe? Coasted into retirement instead of accelerating into a strong finish? I’m willing to bet that comfort has not always been your creed. Why start now?
I want to have the faith of Abraham, who had the good sense not to permanently settle in Haran (Acts 7:2-4). Terah’s lack of faith and leadership kept him out of the land of promise and from fulfilling the call God undoubtedly put on his life.
Don’t make the same mistake, pastor. Don’t settle on your relationship with God, your wife, or your ministry.
What other comfort zones do pastors and other Christian leaders settle into?