For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to keep, and a time to cast away.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,6)
This past week, I made one of the most painful decisions I have ever made. I decided to quit sending out Thought For The Day, a devotional message I have sent out at least once a week for about 20 years. I currently had over 5,000 subscribers around the world.
Quitting seems to be a word with a negative connotation and I have resisted the urge to quit many times before. I know that God has used TFTD to touch the lives of many people. People whom I could never have reached any other way. It was an opportunity to teach, to encourage, to challenge, to help people to grow in their faith. Many of those people I have developed a personal relationship with, so it was a difficult decision.
The Bible says a lot about the godly attribute of endurance (“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”, Hebrews 10:36) and so there’s a part of me that has resisted making this change because I didn’t want to be seen as someone who was a quitter.
But I recognize that sometimes in the Bible God wanted people to quit doing what they were doing (even things that were good). I think about Paul who was preaching in Asia Minor and planned to continue doing that when God told him to quit going in that direction and head in a new direction (Acts 16). Of course, Paul had the benefit of a vision from God to know that he was making the right decision. For most of us, the choice is not so clear.
When should we continue to press on, doing what we’re doing, being faithful and persevering, and when do we know when it’s time to quit, time to change directions? That can be a difficult decision to make.
Let me say that when it comes to serving Christ, using our talents and gifts to his glory, there is never a time to quit. No matter how hard it may get at times, we must continue to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). But how we serve Christ may change at different points of our lives (and sometimes needs to change).
Melanie Pinola has written an article on “How to Know When to Quit” and she makes several very good suggestions:
- You know it’s time to quit when… You’re consistently experiencing more frustration than reward.
- You know it’s time to quit when… Spending time on this keeps you from more rewarding endeavors.
- You know it’s time to quit when… You’re staying for the wrong reasons.
Those guidelines don’t come from scripture, but I believe they are sound. If you’re facing the urge to quit right now, may your decision be based not on whether what you’re doing is difficult, but whether it is the best use of your time and resources in serving Christ. We sometimes say that when God closes a door, he opens another one. It is just as true that when God opens a door, he sometimes closes one as well. Step out in faith, and be ready to be used by God in new ways.