1 Kings 19: 19-21
I was the father of two preschool boys. I was working parts of seven days each week: my 40-hour-plus day job in high tech, and my 12-hour per-weekend sports broadcasting job with a national sports radio network.
I had always wanted to be a father more than anything, even more than a sports talk show host. I realized that very soon, activities like T-ball would be starting up for my oldest. So I sacrificed my radio career, leaving that job so I could be a T-ball coach and a scout leader and a highly involved dad.
Sometimes, we are called to sacrifice in order to serve God and/or others. Sometimes, it's time to "slaughter the oxen." Let's read from 1 Kings 19 to see what I mean.
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Needing an assistant and a successor, the prophet Elijah selected Elisha. Elisha's response was to slaughter the oxen and burn his plowing equipment to fix one last goodbye meal for the family and friends around him. There was no turning back for Elisha! He had destroyed his means of livelihood, and he set his face forward, following after Elijah.
Giving up sports broadcasting was a "slaughter the oxen" moment for me (though I returned to it on the side 18 years later, when my children didn't need me so regularly anymore).
Another time of sacrifice was when I felt called to reach outside my home church and initiate Cecil Taylor Ministries. First, I cleared my calendar of a lot of precious volunteer engagements (I argued with God about this step for awhile!). I worked the ministry as a side venture, but I couldn't progress it well while working my day job. After a few years, I arranged to go part-time at work so I could work an equal, part-time amount with my ministry. That didn't get the results I wanted, either. I finally listened to the Spirit messages I was getting through prayer and through other people speaking into my life. I "slaughtered the oxen," quit my day job altogether, and went fulltime into Cecil Taylor Ministries.
I'm not saying that the answer is always quitting your job. But usually we find we must sacrifice something in order to better serve God and others. Something has to give, in order for something to be gained.
What oxen must be slaughtered, what cherished things must be left behind, before you can move forward with God's latest, newest plan for you? I don't think this is a casual or rhetorical question at all. Think back to nearly every important step in your life. I'm guessing that you had to give up something dear in order to progress. Perhaps it was moving to a new city or to a college far away. Maybe it was leaving your church friends to find another church and make new relationships. Did you have to forego a job you really wanted in order to take the job you really needed? Perhaps you had to leave a comfortable situation to venture into some unknown, uncomfortable arena.
I find that it takes difficult, painful decisions at times to serve or grow in new ways. Something must be sacrificed in order to move toward the new thing that is now right. To follow God and His constant revelation of His plans for you, be prepared to slaughter the oxen, burn the plowing equipment, say goodbye to things or people you cherish, and run to catch up to The One that is leading you forward.
Sometimes the thing that makes us move from the old to the new is a crisis. My book and video series, The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life, gives you principles to get through any crisis. Most of us are not far away from a crisis, either in the past or present or future, so The Next Thing is relevant to all of us. You can find the book, video series and participant's guide at CecilTaylorMinistries.com. The written materials can also be found on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, DoveChristianPublishers.com, and other fine booksellers.