8 Ways to Know It's Time to Quit

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Sometimes, it’s more damaging to stay than to quit.

(Editor’s Note: Staying or leaving a ministry is serious business. This article offers some examples that could validate a change. Ultimately, the Spirit speaks and leads and the believer listens and discerns. Be diligent to listen to the right spirit as you look at your own situation.)

How do you know when it’s time to leave an organization or company? Sometimes, it’s more damaging to stay than to quit. Recently, I was asked to help a friend think through his own decision of whether to stay or to leave his current position. The following are some times to consider leaving. I think these may apply if you are an employee, volunteer or sometimes even a church member.

1. When your heart has left the organization and you don’t plan to stay permanently. Sometimes, you have to re-energize your heart. If you are in a marriage, for example, you have to find a way to make it work. If you are working for an organization, 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 make life miserable for everyone else.  

2. When you can’t support the leadership and the leadership is firmly planted. You need to know who the power brokers in your organization are. It’s nearly impossible to change the organization working against that ingrained power structure. Ask yourself, “If it’s always going to be like this around here, would I be content staying?”

3. When your family or personal life is suffering because of the demands of the organization. If you have to neglect one of them, your career or your family, in 20 years, which do you hope it will have been?

4. When your mind starts working against the mission and vision of the organization. If you would rather see the place fail than succeed, it’s clearly time to go.

5. When your relationship with co-workers or leadership is damaged beyond repair. You should try to work out these differences, but when it is obvious the relationship cannot be mended, it may be time to move on. Life’s too short to be that miserable.

6. If the organization is venturing into immoral or unethical practices. Don’t get caught in the next news scandal.

7. When you find yourself physically ill if work crosses your mind on the weekend (or when you are off work). If the stress is greater than you can handle emotionally, protect your health over the career.

8. You are no longer pulling your weight. For whatever reason, whether it’s because you’ve given up, you are bored or just can’t keep up, if you are dragging down productivity and you don’t have the incentive to improve, perhaps it’s time for a change in your workplace.

Please understand. I’m not a quitter. I believe, however, that the times described above are not always to be viewed as negative experiences. Sometimes, God uses the difficult experiences of life to draw us to Him and to open our eyes to the next opportunity He has for us. I would have never made some of the moves I’ve made in life that I know now were of God had it not been for my miserable situation at the time.

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 church grow vocationally for over 10 years.

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

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  • cheree

    nice article..i learned something..:-)

  • hillbilly

    What makes this issue so difficult is the fact we are not in a position for our self. If it were just a job and not a calling the decision would be much easier to leave. Also I struggle with those verses in the Bible that talks about persevering and long suffering. Are these not fruits of the spirit? Are we truly spirit filled if we choose not to suffer long for Christ? I thought these were eight great tips that will help me as I wrestle with this decision in my own ministry. I have never resigned a position, been voted out a few times, but never quit.

  • Pastor Don

    Not sure I agree with any of the reasons. But I am seriously not trying to be critical. I just think 90% of our problems come from within and not from the outward circumstances in our life. It’s almost always more about bending and dying to self and finding freedom in that road that follows Christ. If these same reasons were applied to a marriage we would never agree with them. If Abraham had felt this way he would have left Canaan to dwell in Egypt. This isn’t our home…we are just passing through. We are transformed in that process of dying to our expectations for glory here. The road (for me) is not change jobs…but change me.

    • Minister TLWB

      I do believe that many of our problems can and do lie within us to fix, however, there are times when “sticking it out” can prove more harmful. Pastor Don,Ron did mention (several times) to try to work it out, especially in a marriage, but as it relates to ministry at some point seperation may be necessary. Who knows, but God if there will not be a reconcillation of relationship in the future. Paul and Barnabas’s dispute over Mark is a good examples of this principle. They could have tried to work it out, but I believe the scientific principle of friction, causes work to stop. That should not be the case, but instead we should encourage growth. Instead these two men chose to seperate and the Gospel was spread further because two teams were sent rather than one. Whether to leave or to stay, truly will depend upon God’s leading, but don’t be so prideful that you don’t listen when He truly is stirring the nest.

  • Seahwinston

    from someone who recently quit after many years in his first job…seasons change. sometimes our priorities in life change, other times organization leadership changes. perhaps by moving on we are allowing ourselves to grow and change further, rather than remain miserable and stagnated. THANKS HEAPS for the article! it was really encouraging!

  • CR

    I’m totally in agreement that we need to grow through suffering. Bunyan wrote:”We should be overgrown with flesh, if we had not our seasonable winters. It is said that in some countries trees will grow that bear no fruit, because there is no winter there.” PLEASE take heed of pride that creeps into your heart that causes for you to think that your suffering will pay off in anything other than fruit. Don’t just “stay and suffer” so you can SHOW GOD HOW STRONG YOU ARE. You can’t show God anything. The one “go/no go” for me is: my wide and sons. I’ll give up the race of ministry to win my family. Don’t get so lost in the work of the Lord that you lose sight of the Lord of the work. Too many Pastor’s kids end up in hell.

  • PE

    Jesus also shook the dust off his feet from time to time. Entrenched leaders who refuse blessing in order to keep their own power or spiritual dysfunction in place are very hard to work with and maintain one’s own spiritual integrity. I have found that the Spirit is the best coach, and that the coaching may be to leave. God calls us into churches; he may also call us out of churches.

  • Pastor Don

    Thanks for the great words. I wonder however if there is only 1 reason to ever leave: Because God says to leave. I guess we can all figure out when that is, and what He is trying to tell us. But I am just responding to a culture that always thinks if it’s difficult or even abusive that we should leave. God told Hagar to go back to Sarah. Leah stayed a marriage with a husband who “hated” her and gave birth to 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel. God told Hosea to go and get the incredibly hurtful Gomer and bring her home and love her. This is God. He knows death, and loneliness, and pain and immoral practices, and lack of appreciation, and all the hard things we could ever know. But he finished. If we are dying in bad circumstances maybe it is because we haven’t died to our expectations and in Whom we find our hope. Or maybe He is asking us to leave because the ground is hard and infertile. But he won’t ask us to leave because it’s hard. I hope I am not sounding cruel. I just think the way through is death, and in it, when we can see God, nothing else matters.

    • Nitamccant

      I thought a lot of some of the same! Misery, discomfort, disquietedness most often occur to create “change” not necessarily “leaving” – if we never grew uncomfortable, we’d never change. Certainly, there are times when these 8 things are telling us to leave, but we need to be sure that we contend first with the tasks of absolute evaluation through the lense of God. Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says…”Stop at the crossroads and look around, ask for the old Godly path and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘No, that’s not the road we want.'” All too often, we jump to move because things aren’t going the way we wanted them to go so we look for our own roads!

  • edbailey

    Sounds good-almost too professional sounding, though. In other words, we work in a spiritual realm and that carries a whole different dynamic. Numbers 3 & 7 – are they not a constant for the senior pastor. Most Pastors fit into both-we would never make it if we left everytime we felt that.

  • http://twitter.com/djfuters Jeff Futers

    Excellent thoughts. I appreciate the candor and the clarity of each of these points. And I agree. Incidentally, I wrote something similar last year about staying in a church, more from a parishioner’s perspective, but it still applies. If anyone’s interested….http://jeffsrandomravings.blogspot.com/2010/02/bad-reasons-for-staying-in-church.html

  • Dr_jnurse

    What is right for others,may not be right for you. Don’t listen to others or even consider their ways. If God called you to a position, listen only to Him! If He never tells you to leave, stay!
    If He tells you to leave, leave! Obedience is better than sacrifice! Better to be obedient than sorry! I’ve been on both sides of the fence. It’s better to be faithful, believe me.

  • Prof G

    The comments from the readers ministered to me more than the article did. I think in this era we are prone to give up too quickly because of adversity or negative feelings. I’m seeing too many articles in Christian publications such as “When It’s Time to Leave,” etc. If my father had quit because of what he went through (and it was a lot) as an assistant pastor, he would have never made it as pastor of that same congregation. I am trying to instill in my children not to be quitters, not just in words but by example, and it’s not easy with today’s culture mindset.

  • cindy

    I was doing ‘ bible studies ‘ for a while. While at the 3 locations I did feel like it was over and I should stop. I counted on the Holy Spirit to not only put the studies together through me but to be there at the locations when I taught. It had to be all Him or I wanted nothing to do with it. When I began to feel like I was on my own I got the clue that it was time tp stop. The issue I deal with is that I was a nursing home, another was a homeless shelter and at a community feed location, and we need to be there. Sometimes I wonder if I was hearing God correctly, if my flesh just wanted out, or did I stop on my own. But then I remind myself that it wasn’t coming together by God anymore it was beginning to be me. Obviously we don’t want to be going without His ok and people need Him not ‘us’. So even though I enjoyed doing the teaching beyond what I could express and it gave my life purpose I had to stop. Now I know for sure that my value and existance doesn’t lie in all that. It’s still, like it was before those years, all about Him and His unconditional, unfailing love for me and you. Thank YOU JESUS!

  • Andrew

    I think this is a characteristic that has long diseased the church, the characteristic of quitting. We quit our church because it gets a little uncomfortable, we quit our jobs because there’s more pay over there. We quit our marriages because we grow apart, we quit on ourselves because we don’t match up to the worlds standards. We quit too easily and are always looking for an easier way in life. What ever happened to the fruit of the Spirit, long-suffering. Whatever happened to seeing our trials as ways to increase faith and get some glory for God. Don’t get me wrong, there are valid reasons to move on but I think this article promotes the easy option. I wonder who today will quit because they feel that this gives them permission. 
    The one thing that should be addressed in this article is perhaps, is that the problem is probably not the church/organization etc, but is us. A lot of us are not willing to judge ourselves and see if  the issue belongs to us. A lot of us are not willing to submit to the authority that God has put in place whether we think it is wrong or not
    I could go on, but its not my place to write an article. I will say this one last thing though. Instead of using an article like this for a reason to quit why not search yourself and have God search you and look for a reason to stay and perhaps if you stay, through your time of testing God will get some fruit from your life and the glory. I speak as one who has stayed and seen God’s glory revealed in ways I would never have seen if I had quit. I have also quit and sorely regretted it as i have seen someone else pursue and bear much fruit, my fruit possibly. I don’t want to be living in the land of “what if”.
    Imagine if Jesus had said, “This is all too much”.

    Thank you to the editor for his note but I wonder if it is wise to put an article like this out there in the first place, stumbling block and all that, if you know what I mean.

    • granny

      It was meant for me if no one else and I been in the same church for 58 yrs. Since I was born…no it’s not the same church anymore. When it goes dn to your young grandson coming in bawling his eyes out not b/c of the children but b/c of bulling administration..it’s time to go. They…my family…r in a new church and the boys love it and begged their Mom not to make them go back to their old church. When children can feel the tention…the seperation of not belonging in the rt click..it’s time to go cause God already has.

  • dirvin

    I stayed in a church for 32 years because God had not released me from that church. I did all the jobs that I was asked to do by the pastors who led the church and who had favorites. I wasn’t one ofthem. I stayed there because God had not released me and so I did my service there “unto the Lord.” The next year God released me from that church to start a new ministry in another town as a pastor. The lessons I learned from those 32 years have been invaluable to me in the new church. God knows all and He often allows us to go through unpleasant things as a preparation for the future. I thank the Lord I knew the difference between the mind of the flesh, and the voice of God. I did not leave until I absolutely knew it was God. We need to make sure the dissatisfaction we feel isn’t our own personal negativity and not God’s. It’s easy to quit, but it’s not easy to stay. Jesus kept on His course despite what He knew it would cost Him, we need to do the same.

  • Followingt247

    God does not use a formula when He calls in or calls out. With any position or church we attend, we shouldn’t feel a loyalty to that church where we can’t leave, but to the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. We need to have integrity in how we leave and how we arrive, but when God calls there should be a celebration. So often in churches, we think, “What did we do wrong?” when someone leaves to go take another position or go to another church. That is our flesh and focus on self. We should celebrate those coming and those going. We need to have the heart of Ruth who says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.” Ruth 1:16 The question is, “Has God asked you to pitch your tent longer, or is His cloud moving somewhere else?” For some, the tent needs to stay pitched and it’s not always easy, but there is glory. For others, the glory of the Lord moves us one to continue blessing His kingdom. It’s a walk of faith, and as long as His Word & His Spirit are a lamp to our feet and light to our path, we are in His will. We can rejoice in that our Good Father will go before us either way.

  • ePHraimAg

    True and righteous counsel can Be absent in assemblies. Thus We must Be able to rightly discern in and Of the Word. Not all counsel is wise counsel. We must all be wise and come to understanding, and this is the growth Of Christian life per se. Be Ye equipped…., Stand Ye…., many are Our challenges From The Christ and the Prophets.

  • http://twitter.com/maryloveslife Mary Held

    Great article. I agree that as Christians we must be Spirit-led only in our decisions to leave anywhere.

    There is a generation that thinks if you can’t “stay planted” somewhere for many years (or indefinitely), that something is wrong with your commitment to Christ. I think a mindset has developed that longevity of years at the same church somehow makes you more holy. I disagree. If one is truly Spirit-led, they could be led from assignment to assignment by God himself.

    There is also a generation that thinks being planted anywhere isn’t necessary, therefore they just bounce around week after week with no sense of commitment to anything except how they feel that week. This too is out of balance.

    I believe the strength of one’s commitment to Christ is best measured by their ability to OBEY and FOLLOW even when it’s not the popular thing to do with man. But how much of the church-at-large today is truly able to hear God’s voice and discern His will? I think many don’t have a clue when God is speaking to them. The church needs to do a better job of teaching people how to have an intimate relationship with Christ so that the Body of Christ can truly hear and discern, then obey and follow.

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