It was 3 years ago this week that I resigned from my youth ministry position that I held for 18 years (the one before this was 11 years). I know what it’s like to want to quit. I wanted to quit 100’s of times during that 18 years (half of those 100’s came directly following a youth group activity).

Because I speak to a lot of ministry leaders, I feel like there’s more defeat and discouragement “out there” (in ministry-land) than I’ve heard in many years. Ministry is always difficult, plus this is a difficult economy which adds fuel to everyone’s feelings, emotions, actions, non-actions, etc…

My dear friend and ministry compadre Matt McGill wrote a blog this week about What to do on days when you feel like quitting. He wrote:

Don’t. At least not until you’re REALLY sure of your decision.

Show up. You can’t give up just because you feel like quitting. Going through the motions could restore some of the passion that you’ve lost.

Change it up. You need to show up, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through ALL the motions.

Laugh. Do what ever it takes to find a little fun. You may be on the titanic and its sinking fast, but better to eek out some joy rather than soak in the despair of it all.

Talk about it. Get with a friend–probably not anyone above you in the “food chain” at your church. You may be friends with your boss, but some issues need to be worked out with others.

Seek God. I believe God wants to teach us something every day…even on days when we want to quit. God may be moving in new ways in your life, and feeling like it’s time to quit may be a part of this. Discover the root causes of your thoughts and feelings. Sure, everything is piling up and it feels overwhelming, but what’s behind the superficial issues?

Determine if and where change is needed. When your life is a garbage pit, there are only two things that can change: your situation or your attitude. Most of the time, we need to change our hearts…this is the process where we become more like Jesus.

I love Matt’s advice! I’d add a few additional thoughts:

1. Get to the bottom of the discouragement: Work hard to discover the truth behind the hurt. You may find very quickly that it’s not about “them”… rather, it’s you. Your pride. Your fear. Your deep insecurities. And, that’s okay! Awareness leads to healing. I just hate to see people make big decisions and quit without facing the truth.

2. Take some time away: Don’t curl up and watch Oprah re-runs and eat yourself into a sugar-coma. Instead, get away for a couple days. Steer clear of email that could trigger you. Stay off your phone. Grab a journal, a book or two, a Bible…get away. Think, rest your weary heart and busy pace, go quiet, introspective… basically, get away from the situation for a short period of time to get perspective.

3. Make a list of VRT’s: These are “Very Refreshing Things”. They may be people, places, hobbies, activities…whatever refreshes you. Make that list. Keep writing. Try to get to 30 ideas. Some will take more time than others, but see if you can’t infuse one idea a day into your ministry schedule.

Neither Matt nor I have a secret bullet for “what do do when you want to quit” but both of us can relate. So, know that you’re not alone. Know that not everyone understands ministry (especially if you’re in youth ministry). Who knows, maybe it is time to quit… but, it’s probably not. Hang in there.

Question: what else would you add to the list? Share it here.

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