How do you know when to quit?

Claudia Wong // August 27, 2017, 11:55 pm

How to know when to quit

Today’s millennials have been labelled “The Strawberry Generation” – one that cannot withstand excessive pressure or hard work and, like strawberries, “bruise” easily.

Compared to the generation before, the current generation tends to change jobs more frequently, with some even quitting their jobs without finding a new one first.

Millennials say that multiple job offers and the opportunity to move represent high career mobility and is the way to pursue career development today. So is this generation as flippant as they’re made out to be, or one that is simply able to make more frequent informed decisions for better outcomes?

On the other hand, quitting is often seen as a weakness of character, especially so in the church context. Leaders who decide to leave their flock, members who change cell groups – or worse, church – are directly or indirectly criticised for not being committed.

Quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit – right?

In the Bible, faithfulness and perseverance are qualities that are highly regarded: Ruth choosing to rough it out with Naomi, Joshua and Caleb the minority who wanted to press on and conquer the Promised Land …

So, apart from areas of sin where we know we must let go and die to our carnal selves, for key decisions such as a career change, relinquishing of church ministry, or ending a romantic relationship, how do we know when is the right time to stop pushing on and move on instead?

Here are three guiding scenarios where calling it quits may just be the right thing to do.


1. When you are influenced more than you can influence

This can happen when your environment is extremely toxic – such as an excessive drinking culture or a spirit of hyper-competitiveness in the workplace, leading you to constantly compromise on your values and morals to “fit in” and please your boss.

If you are unable to find like-minded Christian colleagues who can support you in this journey, are in a very junior position and unable to influence office practices, with every working day a constant battle – it may be time to find another job.

“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

We are called to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. But if the salt loses its saltiness by resembling its surroundings rather than reviving them, it is no longer good for anything.

2. When you have lost a sense of purpose and joy

Ministry isn’t always easy and smooth sailing.  A lot of time and effort is involved in sowing into the lives of others, only to be met with familiar disappointment at the end of the day.

While such setbacks may sometimes cause us to lose the joy of serving, if you still have the firm belief that there is a greater purpose, persevere on! Celebrate and give thanks for every mini-milestone, and you will find joy in serving itself, regardless of the results.

Jesus’ ministry on earth wasn’t the most joyful, but he did have a sense of purpose. He knew what he was called to do, and what He would face on the cross. He prayed, “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

However, if you have lost both the joy and purpose of ministry, go back to God and ask him to show you what talents He’s given you to invest. It might be better to stop and recalibrate, than to push on completely burnt out.

3. When God is calling you elsewhere

Moses took a 40-year time-out – albeit not by choice – to work as a shepherd for Jethro in Midian (Exodus 2:11-25). Only at the age of 80 was he called back to Egypt to lead his enslaved people, the Hebrews, out to God’s Promised Land (Exodus 3).

Sometimes we are afraid to leave our comfort zones for an uncertain new role, or we hold on to our current situation too tightly even though we know deep down we need to let it go. This “elsewhere” that God calls you to could be a new job, a new ministry, a season of rest, or to the desert of Midian – time in the wilderness.

We often have the expectation that when God calls us to a new place, it will always be greener pastures. This is not necessarily true. God is always one step ahead of us, preparing us for the next season of our lives – and tough training just might be in store to help us last the distance. Trust Him and go where He leads.

The above three scenarios are just guidelines and may not apply to your situation. If you are thinking of calling it quits, set aside some time to intentionally seek God on your decision. This could be done through a season of prayer and fasting, as well as seeking godly counsel.

After all, our God is a covenant-keeping God, and we can rest on His promises that He will never quit on us (Deuteronomy 7:9).