When Is It Time to Quit? 10 Scenarios to Help Decide

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Ask yourself, are you staying for the wrong reasons?

How do you know when it’s time to leave an organization?

I recently wrote “Leave Before You Have To.” Sometimes it’s more damaging to stay than to quit.

I am asked frequently to help someone think through the decision of whether to stay or to leave their current position. Obviously, if God calls you to stay somewhere, you should stay, but many times, in my experience, we stay for the wrong reasons.

The following are some times to consider leaving. I think these may apply if you are in a church or business setting. This post is expanded from a post I wrote a few years ago. It developed from a conversation with a church staff member suffering under tremendously poor leadership and other questionable activities. I’ve continued to encounter situations where a person is wrestling with whether it’s time to leave their position.

Here are 10 scenarios that may indicate it’s time to leave:

1. When God has freed you from your commitment.

I believe God’s call is ultimately to the person of Christ, not to a place, but there are times God has us in a specific place for a specific season. You may only be a leader for a season. (Read about that HERE.)

If you sense God has released you to pursue other positions, it may soon be time to leave.

2. When your work is finished.

It could be that you’ve accomplished what you were sent to accomplish.

I once wrote about leaders needing a challenge to stay motivated. If you have become too comfortable, it may be a time God is preparing you for a change … a new challenge. (Read more of that thought HERE.)

3. When your heart has left the organization or its vision. 

Sometimes you need to re-energize your heart. If God hasn’t released you from the position, for example, then you have to find a way to make it work.

In many cases, however, you are freed to move elsewhere. You shouldn’t harm the organization by staying when you no longer have a heart for the mission. If you’ve quit having fun, don’t keep making life miserable for everyone else.

Ron Edmondson Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.

More from Ron Edmondson or visit Ron at http://www.ronedmondson.com/

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  • Mark

    Thank you for the article, Ron.

    I’ve been in ministry now for almost 30 years, and can’t count the number of pastors and ministry workers who have stayed in unhealthy situations and done more harm to themselves, their families, and the ministries, simply out of some misplaced view of “faithfulness.”

    I don’t discount being faithful to your calling, obviously. But there is a point where for everyone involved it’s just not best to stay.

    As a young minister, I bought into a very spiritual-sounding philosophy that said “If you take care of God’s house, He’ll take care of your house.” Sounds good and spiritual, except it’s a lie. While God will be faithful in our lives as we serve Him, we are still expected to provide for the needs of our families – and not just financially, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

    Sometimes a church/pastor dynamic becomes toxic, and that pastor and family are going to pay a price that is too high if they stay and try to “fight.”

    I know. My dad is a pastor, and watching the way “church” people treated him almost sent me to hell.

    In any case, good words Ron. Thanks again!

  • D. H. Wallenstein

    A potent list. I find myself identifying with several points myself.

    The only thing that’s kept ke from moving on in my situation, is that I don’t sense from the Holy Spirit that He’s given me permission to leave yet.

    You’ve given me something to think about today!

  • FS

    Very well written, biblical, and realistic. Excellent job Ron! Thanks.

  • Hank

    I needed this article. I currently have my resume out there and have been looking, but it helps to be reminded all the reasons why we are moving on. If anyone around here could pray for me and my family during this difficult time I would greatly appreciate it.

    • Dave Ekstrom

      Lord, open the doors for our brother. And let Him feel your presence.

      I left a ministry a number of years back. I should have left. For all the reasons listed here. But man how I could have used this article back then! I was so conflicted in myself, thinking I should stay and be loyal but knowing I couldn’t overlook some serious ethical breaches and leadership failures. I became bitter against the senior pastor. Because I was in denial about my anger, I bottled it up and it finally exploded like a mentos dropped into a coke. Had I given myself the grace to leave, I could have left gracefully instead of the unkind things I said to him at that time. I still feel bad about that.

      • Pastor Elliott

        Dear Brother, Are you familiar with the book, Bait of Satan, by John Bevere? If not, I strongly encoruage you to read it. I require every member of our church staff to take the 12 week class (text, workbook, and video). We have saved numerous relationships and ministries by implementing the principles in this book…the priniciples of NOT biting the bait of offense. I am praying for you right now…

  • http://www.churchleaderscampfire.com/ Neil Schultz

    Ron, an excellent article, indeed. Thank you! To add one more to this list: cultural/geographical/climate differences or “fit.”

    Weather truly does affect people. If one has ever been to Seattle, WA the emotional challenges brought on by the constant rain is vastly different than the dry and arid sun beatings received in Phoenix, AZ.

    Beyond mere seasonal affective disorder, there are good reasons to consider leaving a location based on what a person is physically and mentally used to. It truly does affect one’s moods, personality, and ultimately a sense of being settled.

    Perhaps we found ourselves in desperation and needing a job, which is what brought us to a particular location, but in spite of the reasons, perhaps its time to look elsewhere due to being a fish out of water.

  • Guest

    i needed this, thanks so much, Ron

  • Guest

    3 days from now is exactly a month after I gave my resignation letter to my boss.

    In the past year 1 1/2 yrs I remember myself saying “I will quit this job soon!” once on a while. But I can’t, I wasn’t able to do so.
    I love what I do, I like what I am doing. Seems perfect, right?
    But along with this beautiful scenario is the fact that I am hurting- I have to spend all my time working, distant myself to people so I can make ‘rational’ decisions. I wake up each day thinking that the purpose I exist is because of my job.
    It is a hard battle, doing what you love but hurting the ones that love you.

    But the thought of leaving keeps on nagging me, I had to reflect.
    I tried to check on my work, I deliver, I’m getting better and better on my career according to people. But the ones I work with on a regular basis, has something else to say. I am becoming a monster – that’s why this line in the article hit me “If you’ve quit having fun, don’t keep making life miserable for everyone else.”
    in the process I lost friends and disconnected myself to people, had a health concern. For an early 20s to have to go through ECG exams is not a good sign.
    I started then to reflect on what my heart, and my God was telling me.

    And I knew right there and then that the only way to decide is to really listen to your heart what has to say. Do not wait for an ECG exam to quit!

    I am scared actually, I don’t know how life will look like not doing what I am currently doing but faith for so many times lead me to where I should really be.
    [Sorry for this long response, Ron!]

  • mary zorn

    I am at a place where I have the years to retire from my teaching job, but have a few questions about whether I should. I have so much left to do outside of the job but not enough time or energy (in a day) to do it! This article was helpful. (full-time teacher and part-time ministry worker.)