4 Questions to Ask Before You Give Up, Quit or Move On
Should I give up?
I paused chopping vegetables long enough to voice my question to JP, my knife poised in mid-air. I have no idea why, but I process my biggest concerns and deepest doubts in the middle of my most mindless activities. I’ve been known to circle around life’s most important issues in my kitchen, shower, or car.
What? You, too?
That day in my kitchen, frustration and difficulty rendered me confused, and, if I’m being totally honest, a little hopeless. Part of me wanted to wave the white flag of surrender; the other part wondered if I should press on.
I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed, and I didn’t want to make a decision I’d regret.
Sometimes, the question, “should I give up?” is phrased more like:
- Should I quit or continue?
- Should I keep hoping or give up hope?
- Should I move on or hang on?
- Should I try harder or stop trying?
No matter how the concern is phrased, the underlying question remains the same:
How do we know when it’s time to give up and move on?
The simple answer is that it’s not always easy to know.
Sometimes it’s easier to discern when not to give up and start from there.
Whether we wonder if we should give up something relatively minor–like a project or a position–or something more life-defining–like a dream, or a friendship–it’s worth our while to ask a few questions.
Four questions to ask before you give up:
Is my desire to give up based on wisdom or a whim?
Discouragement. Disappointment. Difficulty. These three D’s can drive us to throw up our hands in despair faster than you can say, “I’m done!”
The problem with giving up when we feel discouraged, disappointed (again!), or when things get difficult, is that none of these factors necessarily indicate that we are supposed to give up, or that we are out of God’s will.
In fact, they may indicate that we are smack dab in the middle of God’s will.
Case in point: were the Israelites supposed to turn back because they faced the Red Sea? Was David supposed to lay down his rocks because Goliath was big? Was Jesus supposed to throw in the towel because the cross was difficult?
Of course, it’s easy to be objective about their decisions–we have the privilege of hindsight. It’s not always so easy to be objective about our decisions.
But what is easy is to ask whether our desire to quit is based on thought through God-honoring wisdom or on an emotional whim to make life easier.
If you’re wondering whether to quit or hang tough, remember: Disappointment, difficulty, or discouragement are not sufficient reasons to give up.Never quit on a whim; quit out of wisdom. Click To Tweet
Do I want to quit because I don’t see immediate results?
Nothing makes us want to quit faster than not seeing results.
Don’t believe me? The last time you tried to shed a few pounds did you keep eating healthy if you didn’t see the scale dip the first week or two?
Pass the chocolate chip cookies and bag of chips, please. Ahem.
The temptation to give up when we don’t see the payoff is real. God addresses the issue in Galatians 6:9:
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Let me ask a couple of Sunday School questions with Sunday School answers (i.e. Don’t overthink this):
Q: Who gets to reap the harvest of blessing?
Q: When does the person who doesn’t give up reap the harvest of blessing?
The person who reaps the blessing—at just the right time—is the person who doesn’t give up doing good.
Naturally, it’s tempting to want to give up when we’re tired and weary of waiting. Let’s be honest: we’d rather see immediate indicators that our work is working. When results don’t come quickly we’re prone to think, All my doing good is doing no good!
But, God reminds us, doing good is a SEED that takes time to become a harvest of blessing.
We should never give up simply because we don’t see our work working.
Do I want to give up because I’m unwilling to do the work?
Now here’s where the decision to give up–or not–gets all up in our grill.
Galatians 6:9 promises a blessing if we don’t give up. However, verses 7 and 8 add another component. Take a peek:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
No one gets to sidestep the “you reap what you sow” principle.
Sometimes though, our desire to quit is born out of old-fashioned laziness (or is it just me???). We simply don’t want to do the work required to see a positive outcome.
If we give up when the real solution is to get up and keep going, our decision is short-sighted and almost always ends in regret.
4. Have I considered what will happen if I give up?
Perhaps the best questions to ask ourselves are these: what will (likely) happen if I give up? What will (likely) happen if I don’t give up? Let the scenarios play out in your mind from beginning to end.
Never quit before you’ve thought through the ramifications of giving up. Weighing the outcomes doesn’t mean you’ll always keep trying or stay put, but it does mean you’ll be prepared for the likely outcome.
Years ago, JP taught me a simple question to help discern whether I should give up and move on, or gear up and move forward: “Which decision will I be glad I made when I put my head on my pillow tonight?”
It’s not always easy to figure out when to give up; sometimes it’s easier to figure out when not to give up.
- Don’t give up on a whim
- Don’t give up simply because we don’t see immediate results
- Don’t give up out of laziness
- Don’t give up before you’ve thought through the likely outcome of your decision
Next time, I’ll share how I ended up answering the question I asked in my kitchen, “Should I give up?” and tell you what happened as a result. (Spoiler: you’ll want to hear.)
But for now, what tips do you have for discerning when to give up? What questions do you have?
Share the wisdom by leaving a comment below!
Did you know you can follow Donna on Instagram @donnaajones? You can also tune into her podcast “That’s Just What I Needed” everywhere–Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, Podchaser, and more! And, you can find out if she’ll be speaking in your area by clicking here.
More than a Bible teacher, Donna is a self-described Bible explainer. A colorful storyteller who combines Biblical truth with real-life anecdotes, her messages not only help listeners understand God’s Word, but most important, grasp how to live it out in real life.