Are you feeling the urge to quit something? I actually run across this a lot more than you'd think. I meet with people who are considering quitting their current job, a relationship or marriage or even their church. So, I decided to draft the rules of quitting…
1. Run through, not away.
Allow me to use the example of your job. Do you hate your job? Do you hate your boss or coworkers? Do you long to be in a career that is making a difference? Those are all significant issues. The question is, do you need to quit? My advice is change your perspective to a "run THROUGH, not AWAY" approach. We are poised in our society to run away. What if we could deal with our frustrations in a healthy way and if we decided to pursue another opportunity we could do so without taking our frustration and bad attitude with us!? What if we could avoid unnecessary regret. This is terribly difficult for us because once we find ourselves frustrated at our current situation we want to bail. We want to run. This is a character flaw in our generation. We run away from our problems. I see this in marriages that fail. My first question is always, "why did you run away instead of run through?" Our society has lost the value for perseverance and longevity. It is very likely that the character development of persevering in a difficult situation far surpasses the quick fix of running away. If at all possible avoid simply quitting and run through the challenges. This is part of what it means to pursue a positive opportunity. Running away almost always means you forfeit the needed personal growth a challenge/frustration offers.And sometimes you discover that quitting isn't the solution.
2. Look in the mirror.
Another fatal flaw most of us have is blaming our frustrations on others. No one enjoys looking in the mirror at their flaws, yet it is part of being healthy. Quitting seems like a much less painful option. We can often feel paralyzed by someone else's bad decision making. I see this in churches all the time. You get frustrated because the pastor preaches too long or the church doesn't do enough missions (especially the mission you are passionate about) or the church doesn't spend money the way your think it should. So, you quit. You go to another church. Is it wrong to leave a church - certainly not. However, our quick to quit attitude often causes us to bypass key steps along the way. Before leaving pause to consider your attitudes and motives. Are you correct in all your assumptions? Are you being overly critical? Have you given your pastor or other leaders the opportunity to explain or clarify things? Are you willing to hear the same kind of feedback about yourself that you so passionately rant about concerning the pastor? I fear that we cause so much unnecessary pain in our churches because we fail to take ownership of our own choices and flaws. Sure, you may still end up leaving but the process of looking in the mirror will likely bring some needed balance to your frustration and allow you to leave positively and contribute positively in another church.
3. Preference vs morality
This is usually where the exceptions live. By now you have probably thought about exceptions that #1 and #2 did not address. Well, that's where #3 comes in… Be sure to know the difference in "preference and morality." There is GOOD reason to quit certain things. If you are involved in any sort of sin (immorality) the absolute best next step is to RUN!!! Quit sin anywhere you find it. Our challenge is to be careful that we don't elevate our preferences into false moral imperatives. Far too many people quit over foolish differences. Marriages end everyday over silly differences that should be considered normative. People leave churches more because of preference than issues of morality or theology. I've even known people to quit their jobs because their employer was not a Christian! I promise it is ok to work for a non-Christian. It is simply a good practice to evaluate our frustrations in terms of preference vs morality. If you are frustrated by an issue of preference consider this an opportunity to learn some patience and grace. If the issue truly is a breach of morality then use wisdom and address those issues accordingly and if necessary run away. If you spouse in involved in some kind of immorality, you should not just bail out. Your first effort should be to pursue corrective action through a process of loving and firm discipline ideally with the help of trusted friends.
As I reflect on this issue I'll conclude with this final thought. Quitting has become the easy-out for most of our frustrations. As a result we leave so much character development and personal growth on the table. It is good for us to deal with not always getting our way, it helps us as we follow Christ! Have you quit lately?