Knowing When to Quit

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.

29 Comments

  1. My husband and I are facing this type of decision. We have been running a food pantry in our small town since October 2005. He is 71 and I’ll soon be 69, and the physical effort is taking its toll. We do have help…but they’re our age and are getting worn out as well. So far, we haven’t been able to find anyone to take it over; and we just can’t see closing it down as there is no other pantry in our town. Pray for us and this decision, please.

    • alansmith77 (Author)

      Barbara, I pray that someone will step up soon who has a passion for that very important ministry. Thank you for your service in this area.

    • There comes a time in our lives when the spirit of God speaks to us that he has another path that we should travel, and we move in that direction as we are led

  2. Sometimes quitting means giving a different, eager person the first time opportunity to serve, in the same area that you have been serving. Don’t waste time looking back, except in gratitude for the opportunity previously enjoyed. Look forward to God’s new area of service for you! And there is always an area that needs what God always prepares you to do. Just be willing to be used in a new capacity!

  3. Alan,
    Thank you for this opportunity for us to continue receiving spiritual encouragement from you in this new way.
    I have not only enjoyed your TFTD emails for years, but have also used many of them as the basis of my morning devotions with my first high school class of the day.
    I look forward to what you have to share with us in the future.
    Bless you for your many years of faithfulness in encouraging God’s children.

  4. Brother Alan Smith,
    I have received TFTD for several years and have always found them encouraging and at time challenging and humorous. I have used many illustrations in TFTD in my Sunday sermons and they have always been well received. Thank you for your ministry down through the years and I hope the Lord will continue to use you in this different area of service.

  5. Thank you for your commitment to continue your inspirational messages. I have enjoyed the TFTD. Looking forward to the new ministry.

  6. It was with mixed feelings I accepted the fact that TFTD would no longer come to my email, but after reading this article it spoke to me in my own indecisiveness. I was thoroughly blessed by it and pray the Lord guide you continually in your endevours

    • alansmith77 (Author)

      I think indecisiveness is one of the things that Christians struggle with most. “Should I go or should I stay? What does God want me to do?” It can be difficult, even for a mature Christian.

  7. Alan, for years I enjoyed TFTD, and once in a while used some of the anecdotes in my preaching ministry. You have been a blessing to me, and, I am sure, to many of your 5000 plus readers. May the Lord continue to bless you richly and use you mightily. I already miss my TFTD.

  8. Bro. Alan,
    Like many, I too have been blessed by tftd since 2010 when I first subscribed in Nigeria. I have looked forward to tftd every Thursday and found the messages they convey timely and relevant to my present situation.
    A big thank you for availing yourself to be used of God to reach and bless some many. Your reward is sure. I pray the new opportunities that God is calling you into, has even greater impact.

  9. How wonderful it has been to interact with you in this platform. I have been blessed for many years and I am sure God will find a way out for us and you in your new endeavors.

  10. For many and many years, through my Prison Ministry, I tried to bless prisoners in 40 states by sending them copies of your tftd articles. Turns out that I and my family probably were blessed more for doing so. I thank God and you for making this possible.

    Love & Prayers through Christ,

  11. I’m glad you are doing this blog now that TFTD is ending. I always looked forward to it and am so glad you are now doing this blog.

    • Always be encouraged, the seed has been planted and we know the gardener. I’ve been thoroughly blessed by this site for years.

  12. Hi Alan
    Thank you for being an inspiration to us over the years, it’s really appreciated. I, too have shared many TFTD messages in our Monday morning prayer get-togethers at work (Kempton Park, South Africa), and was always well received. Such a blessing. Thank you so much.

  13. Nthabeleng Mzilikazi

    I’m thankful that I was one of the people who received God’s word through the TFTD. I’m looking forward to the wonderful things that await us on this blog

  14. Thanks for the TFTD over the years. Have you considered putting the ones you have written on a CD and making them available either at a cost of if you prefer for free? They could keep on serving the Lord for many years to come.

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