When Quitting Isn’t Quitting

swim teamIn the first week of my high school senior year, the new swimming coach made an impassioned plea on the intercom for students to join the swim team.  A friend sitting next to me in class said, “Bob, if you will, then I will.”  Neither of us had ever been on a swim team, but we joined.  Two weeks later, my friend quit the team.

I finished the year without winning any races but I learned a lot about swimming.  And I learned about myself that I am not a quitter.  Most pastors I know are not quitters.  You don’t survive long in church ministry if you can look back having put your hand to the plow. (Luke 9:62) Those of us in ministry resonate with the speech of Winston Churchill to his high school to “Never, ever… give up!”

However, Nelson Mandela taught that Quitting is leading too. A good leader knows how to abandon a failed idea, task, or relationship. (See blog on Nelson Mandela on Leadership).

Mandela and Churchill are on the same page.  There is no “giving up” in Mandela’s quitting.  With his hand to the plow, he is pressing forward but in new and more effective ways.  To give his full effort to these new ways, he has learned he must “quit” ways that are failing.

In church ministry, we are better at starting something new than quitting something that has exceeded its shelf life.  How should you lead by quitting so that you can lead by pressing forward?

Bob H. Dean

One Response to “When Quitting Isn’t Quitting”

  1. pastorjerrybarker says:

    What a wonderful question you have posed!

Leave a Reply


five + 2 =