As a child, I was told, “Don’t be a quitter.” and “Finish what you start.” These commands served as a means of encouragement and motivation for academic performance, athletic prowess, and character building. Through these instructions, I learned responsibility, and I find myself saying the same words to my daughter.
Nobody wants to be thought of as a quitter. After all, we don’t want to be thought of as weak or lazy. And I don’t want people on my team who are too eager to give up, either. Even Jesus warned about a lack of commitment: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
While I firmly believe in the importance of following through on one’s actions, and completing what you start, I’ve grown to understand that there are times—both as a leader and a minister of the gospel—that call for quitting. There are ministries or roles or jobs that require a necessary ending.
Through quitting these things, I learn invaluable lessons about God’s character, my identity in Christ, the work God is doing in my heart, and the purpose he has set before me. To be a good quitter, we must be humble as we seek to understand what God wants us to do. And while God certainly doesn’t ask us to quit for the sake of it, he does call us to discern when it’s best to quit or give up something for the sake of something else.
Quitting Good for Great
In the summer of 2008, I found myself at a crossroads. I had to decide whether I would continue as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. At the time, I had spent all of my adult life, a total of 11 years, in a military environment. I was a good Marine, loved my job, and was making great money. But our country was at war, my marriage was in trouble, and my only daughter—the child I wasn’t sure I’d have—was one. There was no way for me to deploy, work on my marriage, and be present to see my daughter grow. So I turned in my papers and was honorably discharged from the military.
I left that job to work at the Department of Homeland Security. I liked the job and the people I was working with, and we were doing important work, but God was growing my love and thirst for his Word. I spent my evenings studying the Word, teaching a Bible study, and leading a small group. Sometimes it felt like I had two jobs—the day job that was paying the bills and the night work which I was most passionate about. When my husband lost his job and we moved to North Carolina, I saw it as an opportunity to quit my day job and pursue seminary full-time, which allowed me to dig into the Word on a regular basis.