Tips  on spiritual growth, emotional health, and relational healing.


When You Shouldn’t Quit (Hint: When You Feel Like 💩)

Nov 14, 2017

It’s incredibly normal to think about quitting.

In fact, if you haven’t thought about quitting something in your life in the last couple years, you are in the minority!

shouldn't quit + drowning tired overwhelmed hand sticking out of waves



The People We Admire Considered Quitting

Many of the people we admire both presently and across history have battled the temptation to quit.

Stephen King was rejected 30 times when trying to publish his first book, Carrie. He became so frustrated he threw the manuscript in the trash. His wife ended up retrieving it because she believed in her husband’s dream of being a published author.

Abraham Lincoln may have been elected President of the United States twice, but he faced many defeats on his way to the Oval Office. While his personal defeats were gutwrenching including depression, bankruptcy, and the dead of his first wife, he also lost one state legislature election, two elections to the U.S. House of Representatives, and two elections to the U.S. Senate.

We know Mother Teresa for generously and sacrificially serving the poor and dying in Calcutta, India. But most of us have no idea how she felt incredibly distant from God. In her private letters, Mother Teresa describes her life as “lived mostly in darkness without any sense of God’s voice.”

Jim Carrey may have made us cackle with his performances in The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, and Liar Liar. But long before he was the highest-paid comedic actor in the world, he was booed off the stage during his first stand-up routine. He later got rejected during his first audition for Saturday Night Live.

In each of these instances, these people faced failure, frustration, and discouragement. The temptation to quit grew and each of them had to decide if that moment was a good time to give up.

It’s a decision you may be considering today.


There are Good Times to Quit

Last week, I wrote about the importance of quitting. I’m not anti-quitting.

In fact, I think quitting often gets a bad rap. In certain instances, quitting can actually be the catalyst which launches you into a brand new future.

I made a decision to quit a job last year. It felt like the right decision for me to make. I sensed my season was ending with the church I was a part of at the time. Feeling ready for a new, larger role, I made a change when an opportunity presented itself. It wasn’t easy, but it was right. I’m where God wants me to be and while I didn’t feel ready, I’ve done well in the first 18 months on the job.

So, if you’re thinking about quitting, check out my post on when you should quit and see if your situation fits one of those categories. Once you’ve finished that article, though, come back here for the other half of the argument.

If you’re in a “bad place” today (I’ll define what I mean below) and you’re considering quitting, then I think you should reconsider quitting. While there are times when you should quit, there are others when you should definitely not quit.


4 Times When You Shouldn’t Quit

1. You shouldn’t quit when you’ve forgotten your purpose.

Many people have said, “people lose their way when they lose their why.” We all go through periods where we lose our sense of what got us into the work we’re currently doing.

If you’re foggy on your why, then this is not the time to quit. Discouragement, confusion, and disillusionment come for all of us. Keep going; don’t give up yet.

You may not see the importance of what you’re doing. You may not realize how important you are to others. It is possible you don’t even realize how good you have it currently.

When things clear up and you decide it’s the time to make changes, take that step then. I’m not against quitting, but I don’t want you to regret quitting because you lost sight of how much this thing you’re doing or this relationship you’re in matters.


2. You shouldn’t quit when you’re tired.

We all make bad decisions when we’re exhausted. Our physical condition impacts our spiritual discernment.

In the Scriptures, the prophet Elijah literally goes from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley in a matter of hours. In a short time, he goes from watching God move in miraculous ways to asking God to kill him. This drastic emotional swing is due to fatigue. Many of us know how Elijah felt.

I wrestle with this same condition myself. When I’m exhausted, I lose my ability to discern and interpret what’s going on around me. And I’ve had mood swings as crazy as the great prophet.

A former co-worker pointed this out to me several years ago. I was bemoaning a problem in the area I led and considering a drastic response. She began asking me about how I was sleeping, how much coffee I was drinking, and when the last time was that I had prayed.

I’d been sleeping less than normal. My coffee intake was way up! And I had felt distant from God for some time.

Since a decision wasn’t needed for some time, my wise friend encouraged me to step back and focus on getting healthy before making a final decision. Within 10 days, I was better and realized how inaccurately I had seen the situation.

Learn from my near-mistake and weakness – you shouldn’t quit when you’re tired!


3. You shouldn’t quit on Mondays!

While it’s a great idea to quit smoking on a Monday, I think it’s a terrible decision to quit your job on a Monday. While some might argue that quitting on Monday makes pragmatic sense, I think most of us struggle on Mondays. The grind feels strongest on Mondays. Especially in my field as a pastor, I counsel my friends in church work to avoid quitting on Mondays as they lack perspective after a long weekend.

There was a time when I had six or seven hours of meetings on Monday. By 5 pm on Monday, I wanted to quit. This feeling overwhelmed me nearly every week at that time.

But as I began to expect this feeling, I learned to dance with it. I planned a good dinner with my family, played with my kids, and went to the gym to workout before I went to sleep.

When are you at your worst each week? If it’s not Monday, that’s fine. But identify that time and make an agreement with yourself. I won’t quit on that day or time of day.

Even if you want to quit on a Monday, take the day and chew on it. Come back to the decision and if you still feel compelled, move forward on Tuesday.


4. You shouldn’t quit when you’re emotional.

Your brain has been wired to protect you and enable you to survive. But what enables you to survive often prevents you from thriving.

Your amygdala is the first spot an experience passes through in your brain. You literally have to move through your fear center to get to reason and more objective logic.

Fear is a terrible driver of human decision-making. It works when we’re being chased or fighting off an attacker, but this rarely happens in everyday life.

If you’re looking to quit based on how you’re feeling or your emotions on a given day, I think you’re inviting regret into your future.

Embrace your emotions and accept how you feel. Your emotion isn’t bad – it’s an indicator of what’s truly going on inside you. Like an indicator light on your car, those emotions are telling you to investigate or address something.

One emotion which often drives us to quit is pride. And you may be embarrassed or your pride may be shot right now. That hurts and I don’t envy where you are. But there are more important things than your pride and ego. Don’t sacrifice your future based on your need to preserve your pride in the present.

Don’t let your emotions become the driver of your behavior or thinking. If you’re like me, your emotions and feelings can change with the wind or the weather or what you ate last night for dinner.


shouldn't quit + hand holding compass purpose calling direction

Go Back to Your Why and Get Some Perspective

In his popular TED talk and the book it inspired, Simon Sinek shared that people don’t “buy” what we do; they buy why we do it. We tend to focus on what we’re doing or how we’re doing it. What moves us and those around us, though, is our “why.”

What keeps us moving forward is a red-hot sense of purpose and calling!

As I said earlier, people lose their way when they lose their why. Whether it’s a goal, a dream, a person or a story, keep your why in front of you. And come back to it every day – or more often if necessary.

Our “why” gives us perspective. And perspective is eroded when we’re emotional, when we’re tired, and on Mondays! We all know what regret tastes like. I encourage you today to not add another regret to your list because you made the wrong decision.

Even the right decision can be the wrong decision when it’s done at the wrong time.

Before you quit, make sure you ask yourself, “Is this the right time?”

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