Six Things to Do When Tempted to Give Up


No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, CSB)


Just over a year ago I served as transitional pastor at a troubled church. They lost their senior pastor during the Covid-19 pandemic. He just quit. He quit pastoring. When I met him, his exact words were, “I just can’t do this anymore. Jimmy, I hope you can help them because I can’t.” He was exhausted, discouraged and disillusioned certainly because of all the adversity that pastoring normally brings, but what really got him was trying to minister in a pandemic.


Recently, another pastor I know left his church for the same reason. Just this week a friend, who is a pastor at a church, resigned. He is leaving full-time ministry to pursue other employment. All three of these individuals feel like they don’t have anything left to give.


Perhaps you’ve felt this way. Maybe you aren’t in ministry but you’re ready to quit your job, a relationship, or some other commitment. Sometimes quitting is the right thing. The only way you can save yourself and your sanity is to leave. But before you do, take a moment and work through these six things when tempted to give up.


1. Assess your resiliency


At the core, we are tempted to give up when we believe we can’t go on or won’t recover. A definition of resiliency is the ability to recover or bounce back from stress, whether it is in body, soul, or spirit.


If you are tempted to giving up, then it would be to your advantage to first assess your own level of resiliency. Perhaps there is something you need that’s been missing. Often even a small change that makes a huge difference. For example, your resilience can be eroded by everyday adversities over time. It doesn’t have to be one or two big events. The erosion can be like a constant dripping of water on a rock. Given enough time and conditions being unchanged, the water will wear through the rock.


Resilience is also one of the five parts of emotional intelligence (EQ). It is used almost interchangeably with motivation. Motivation is having the right thought process, putting the emotion into play, which enables us to bounce back from adversity and keep going. Notice the focus is on the “right thought process”, which triggers the energy of emotion that gets us going.


One of the most important truths to realize in thinking about resilience is understanding that our emotions and behaviors are triggered not by events themselves but by how we interpret those events. Therefore, one person has adversity, and they give up. Another person has the same adversity, and they work through it and come out stronger.


Along with that realization, there is another truth that is foundational. This foundational truth should be obvious but for many it requires self-discovery. The truth is this: You need to know the kind of person you are not just who you think you are. Who we think we are determines our interpretation of events and therefore, how it will impact us for good or for bad.


There are resilience assessments that you can take to self-determine your level of resiliency. There are also assessments and tools that will help you to become more aware of your own strengths and areas that need growth. In my experience, the Enneagram is the best tool around to help a person identify and then understand their own thinking, feeling and acting patterns. These include vulnerabilities, fixations, vices, triggers, defense mechanisms and even blind spots. One client said to me after the second of two coaching sessions, that it was better than a year of counseling!


If you want to take a quick resiliency assessment, here is one you can download and print for free.

If you want to take a basic free Enneagram assessment, you I recommend this one.

If you are wanting to explore the deeper layers of your personality, you can contact me. I have a coaching package that will give you in in-depth understanding of your personality and a path for relational and spiritual growth tailored to your specific desired outcomes. You can check it out here:


2. Remember why you started in the first place


One of the first things a marriage coach will do when meeting a couple in marital trouble is to have them think back to the beginning of their relationship and ask, “Why did you want to marry this person?” It’s good to dwell on that for a while, a long while. A good marriage coach will have the couple each make separate list naming all the reasons why they got married in the first place: Emotional reasons, physical reasons, relational reasons, security reasons, along with their hopes and dreams. It is amazing how in going back to the beginning, new strength is found.


It's not uncommon for us to lose our way amid the everyday challenges. We become tired and frustrated. The upsetting thing in front of us overshadows the glorious reason we started in the first place. It’s like holding a quarter so close to your eye that it blocks the sun. In proper perspective, that quarter is no comparison to the star holding our solar system together. But somehow when we make it bigger by holding it closer it distorts the true nature of both the quarter and the sun.


3. List the reasons why you want to give up


Just like you may list reasons why you started, you should list reasons why you want to quit. I encourage you to list every reason to quit that you can. After you’ve done this, then go through and eliminate the reasons that are just not good reasons. You will find that many of the reasons don’t match up to your character or values. In other words, some of the reasons to quit just don’t fit you. You are better than that.

Not all reasons are equal. One reason to give up can loom larger and all encompassing. This would be a reason needing more thought. But many reasons are small. However, a lot of small reasons can drain our strength like a slow air leak gradually flattens a tire. A lot of small reasons add up. Perhaps there are things you can do to eliminate some of the small reasons. This will lighten your load and give you greater ability to recharge. At any rate, getting it all on paper helps to identify the pain points and provides the beginnings of forming a new perspective.


4. Get another perspective


One of the best ways to gain a new perspective is to wait 24 hours. After you have done your list work and checked on your resilience, postpone the quitting for a day. Sleep on it. No matter how awful it may look right now, it will look different tomorrow. You will be able to approach it with some separation in time and with rest. Do what you must do to get a good night’s sleep.


Another perspective can come from another person. Show both lists to someone wise. Don’t show it to someone who will automatically agree with you. Think of a person who will be more objective. Show it to someone who is looking out for you, not someone who will just tell you what you want to hear. Listen to them. Don’t argue with them but encourage them to ask questions about the lists and about why you’re thinking of quitting. They may have some great wisdom that you would not have heard if you had not asked.


5. Practice gratitude


Though at first you may not see the connection, being grateful and expressing gratitude will help you immensely in deciding to whether to go or stay. Ask, “What are some of the things I am grateful for here? What would I miss if I quit?” Don’t go easy on yourself, force yourself to think of things you will miss. Imagine if you worked through the issues and came out the other side. What would have changed? How would you have changed? Are there others who are depending on you? What will they do if you quit?


On the other side, what other possibilities might you miss if you stay? In what ways would it be better for you to quit rather than stay? Could this be God closing a door, but where is the open door? Thank God for the opportunity of choice. Express gratitude that no matter what decision is made, God will not leave you.


6. Create a plan and a back-up plan


If you are quitting, you need to have not only an exit plan but a plan after the exit. What are you going to do next if you quit? How is it going to be any different? What can you do to break a possible pattern?


What are you going to do if you decide to not quit? What is your plan to change? How is it going to be different? You need a plan for both options.


There is one more plan you need. What if neither the “quit plan” or the “stay plan” work out? You need a backup plan. It doesn’t have to be fully worked out, but you will have more peace of mind and heart if you have a backup plan in the back of your mind.


Life is full of surprises. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that most of the plans we make don’t end up the way we thought. So, next time you’re tempted to give up, think on these six things.

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