Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This post originally appeared on his blog.
When It’s Not Time to Quit
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven:
. . . a time to plant and a time to uproot. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, HCSB)
You are frustrated. Or hurting. Or just don’t know if you can take it any more.
You may be in a difficult relationship. You may be in a job you hate. You may be the pastor of a church, and things just aren’t going the way you had planned.
And you are thinking about quitting.
Understanding the Seasons
Hear me well. There is indeed a time to move on, a time to quit. We often stay too long in that job, too long in that pastorate, or too long in that dating relationship. The writer of Ecclesiastes was right. God has ordained seasons for planting, and seasons for uprooting.
But I am concerned that many of us are quitting too soon. The frustrations of today mask the possibilities of tomorrow. Maybe you’re supposed to quit. Or maybe not.
When are we supposed to stay? When do we say for certain we are not giving in to the pressures and the pains of today? I have no magical formula or quick-fix solutions. But may I suggest that we all consider these issues before we quit?
Six Occasions When We Should Not Quit
Of course, most of the people who read this blog are local-church related. Pastors. Church staff. Lay leaders. And those people get frustrated and hurt too often. But I believe my applications have a wider audience.
So, here are six occasions when we should not quit:
- When we have no clarity from God. Of course, I am not prepared to tell you how you should discern the will of God. But you certainly should be seeking His will.
- When you haven’t expressed gratitude and joy to God for where you are now. I know. Your present situation stinks. Why should you be joyful and thankful for anything about it? But do you really believe God is working all things for good? Can you see some areas where you can express joy and gratitude today?
- When it’s just about a few critics. Don’t let the small minority be your impetus to leave. You can be assured that your next place will have critics as well. Love your critics. Pray for your critics. And focus on the positive people where you are.
- When it’s a season of discouragement or difficulty. All places we live, work, serve, and do ministry have seasons of discouragement. All relationships have their more difficult moments. Try to discern if your present reality is just a season, where the tough times will later transition to victories and joy.
- When the job is not done. Of course, you have to define what “job” means in your context. But you will know. And you will know if you are leaving at a comma instead of a period.
- When a commitment has been made. Again, you have to define “commitment,” and honor promises you have made.
By Tom Rainer