In a survey on national public radio, researchers listed the most repeated reasons why people quit their jobs. I thought I'd provide these for you in case you might need that information. These were listed in random order. The top five reasons given by people for quitting their jobs, in every area of industry, the professions, and business, were the following:
- Their work had lost its meaning. They were no longer seeing the point of their service.They were no longer inspired by their job. They had lost enthusiasm for their employment.
- They were not well treated. They were not well treated by their bosses, or their customers, or their coworkers. They didn't receive encouragement for their efforts at doing a good job, no feedback, or too much negative feedback. So, they quit.
- They weren't getting the support they needed to do their jobs. Perhaps it was not enough tools, or manpower, or resources to do a good job. Many left because they felt that they were the only ones who really cared about the work and they had too much responsibility. They felt others were just putting too much on them.
- They lacked growth opportunity. Theirs was, as we say, a dead-end job. Or they felt that they were doing the same old thing. Not just a question of advancement, but also an issue of boredom with a task that no longer provided personal growth for them.
- They lacked financial incentive. Many left because they felt that the money they received was not in line with the effort or results that they were getting. Just paying a person their salary is not necessarily a motivation for service that is over and above the norm; people need incentives, they need rewards for good work. I had a boss once that said to me, "Your reward is that you have a job tomorrow." So, that sort of attitude.
I think many people here can relate to several of these points when thinking about our own jobs or careers, and how we feel, at times, like quitting. "Man, I don't need this." "Not enough money for me to be doin' this job." We could come up with all the things that we say to ourselves when we're this close to just throwing in the towel.
In the report, they didn't give information on what we should do when we begin to grow tired of our work, or begin to look for a new job. Most counselors would say, however, that people go through several jobs, or careers, in a lifetime. And that these feelings or usually a signal that an adjustment is due at your present employment, or the time has come to begin searching or training for a new job, new career.
The point I'd like to make with this information is that the same pattern and the same temptation to quit in the service of the Lord happens as well and we need to recognize the signs and know how to deal with it. In other words, we're often tempted to just quit the Lord.
Why do people quit the church?
People who are members of the church and who serve the Lord Jesus often just quit. They quit coming to services regularly. Usually, it starts with Sunday nights, I'm taking, as an example, someone that always comes, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, they're in the habit of doing that. And the quitting sequence is, usually, they stop coming Sunday nights, and then, maybe Bible class, start skipping that. Then, Wednesday nights, something else takes up their time. And then, worship, well, it used to be every Sunday, now it's every second Sunday, now it's every month, every first Sunday of the month. Then, it's Christmas and Easter. They quit giving a portion of their wealth to the Lord. They quit serving others in the church. They quit volunteering. They quit having fellowship or participating in events. They quit reading their Bible. They quit sharing their faith. They quit praying. And finally, they just quit being faithful members. Oh, there are a lot of reasons given for quitting. Too busy with work. I have a family, you know. We just moved. Whatever. Schedules of school. Sports schedules, too conflicting with church. Or we don't like what's going on in the church. Too modern, too slow, too much, too little, too fast, too slow, too big, too wide, too, too whatever; you fill in the blanks.
Or we don't agree with the elders, or the preachers, or their program, their personality, the preaching style, the priorities; we just don't agree. Of course, when we want to quit, there are any number of excuses that will pop up immediately to help us do what we want to do. And when we are determined to quit, in my experience I've found, any excuse will do. Well, the Bible talks about the problems associated with the temptations to quit the church, or quit the faith, or quit the Lord.
It also gives us ways to help overcome the great temptation to give up and quit. It's not as if it's a new phenomenon. The passage that we just read, Jesus Himself is saying, you're going to be beaten and whipped, you're going to be persecuted, they're going to chase you from pillar to post, and all kinds of bad things will happen to you. And what does He say? Don't quit. I'm telling you, now, these things are going to happen. Don't quit. Now, the opposite of quitting is patience. Patience. Patience is a Christian virtue and a mark of a Spirit-filled life.
Paul, in Galatians 5:22, he says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience..." Patience is that ability to remain under.
This image is the word picture for patience. The ability to bear under. You're the one who's under and what's on top is the train of life and whatever that train happens to be carrying. Sometimes, life hits us with a train and we can either quit or show patience. We can remain under the train of life that passes overhead. The Bible gives us many accounts of men who are tempted to quit, but chose to be patient, chose to remain under during their times of difficulty.
I'd like to talk about a few of these people because their temptation to quit was due to some of the more common reasons that people use today to quit serving the Lord.
Some in the Bible Who Were Tempted to Quit
1. Moses - Overwhelmed by Work
Moses began well, but it wasn't long before he was so loaded down with responsibilities and work that his own father-in-law, Jethro, counseled him to delegate the work to other leaders in the nation.
17Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing that you are doing is not good. 18You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people's representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, 20then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. 21Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 22Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace."
- Exodus 18:17-23
Jethro warned Moses, that if he followed his advice in this matter, he would be able to endure in his ministry. Overwork is the number one reason why good people quit serving the Lord. Good-willed members, or new Christians take on way too much responsibility too quickly and they become discouraged when they see that many others are not doing a thing to help. Or leaders, in various areas, find that if they're going to get things done they've go to do it themselves. In the work of the Lord, there are always more needs and more things to do than time, or energy and resources. It's easy to feel overwhelmed. It's easy to get over-committed. Quitting everything seems like a great solution, but not the way to solve problems.
Dealing with Church Work
The best way to deal with the sheer volume of work in church is the following.
1. Find a balance. Church work is important, but not the only important thing in life. Caring for family, of course, and self, and career. Those are important also. Try to allot a portion of time and resources to serve the church that will leave appropriate time and energy for other things. Pick a spot, or a few spots, where you can serve effectively and focus on these things. Number two: Train and delegate. The best way to avoid being overwhelmed is to cultivate others to do the work that you were doing and let them do it. Every minister, elder, teacher, ministry leader, should consciously be looking for, and actually training, someone to help them with their work.
We get swamped and we get worn out because we don't train others, or we don't allow others to do the work, even if it's not done our way. That's the hard thing, isn't it? Isn't that the hard thing in training somebody? I'd like to train somebody who's going to do it my way. So, I don't train anybody because that way I get to do it my way all the time. Yeah, that's the thing about training somebody else. You've got to let them learn how to do it their way.
2. Recharge spiritually. Spiritual fatigue from serving the Lord is not solved by merely getting enough sleep. We need to recharge our spiritual batteries with prayer and Bible reading and time alone with the Lord in order to be refreshed. Working for the Lord is rewarding, but if we don't learn to focus and balance our efforts, if we don't train others to help and renew ourselves spiritually, burnout will bring us to quitting altogether.
2. Job's wife - Overwhelmed by Pain
Not everybody suffers as many tragedies in one day as Job, but many Christians suffer one painful episode after another until quitting God and life seems like the only alternative. This was not Job's response, but his wife reacted in this way. Remember, she lost her wealth, as well. She lost her children, too. She lost her position and the affections of her husband, also. She suffered, too. And what did she tell Job to do? She said, "why don't you just curse God and die?" Job 2:9. This was probably her own attitude in response as the pain of suffering washed away her faith.
In 2019, we still have death, and divorce, and illness, and stress of work, and caring for children or elderly parents, until we've got nothing left. We got nothing, nevermind somethinhg for the Lord, we've got nothing left for us. People are weak spiritually because they're young in the faith, or they've neglected their faith. And so, they become vulnerable when bad times come.
Job survived the flood of suffering and pain that came his way because he was strong spiritually and his faith was well-grounded. Weak Christians have no trouble maintaining their faith with minimal effort, or service, or study, in the good times. You can go to church every other week, look at the Bible every once in a while, pray on special occasions, but when tragedy strikes, when life turns sour, when suffering persists month after month, they wonder why their faith won't sustain them, and they find it easy to give up believing and hoping in God.
The only way to have a strong faith in times of trouble is to prepare for those times by building faith during times of peace. Regular Bible class and worship, regular reading, regular times of fellowship with the saints, regular service, regular giving. It's that steady Eddie type of faith that gets you ready for the bad times. These types of spiritual exercises will build one's faith so that it will be able to withstand the storms of life when they come. And brothers and sisters, I guarantee you that they will come.
No one gives much thought to levies, or storm walls, or solid construction, but you're sure glad you built it right when 175-mile-an-hour hurricane runs through. Well, it's the same thing with faith. We may not give much thought to the value of Sunday morning service, or being a regular Bible reader, or developing close ties with the brothers and sisters in the church. Why? Because that's time consuming and it requires effort. But when your life falls apart, it's good to know that you have a faithful friend and a faithful heart to get you through.
3. Demas - Overwhelmed by Sin
Demas is my example for that. Of course, a common reason why people quit the church, even though they hate to admit it, is sin, personal sin. They stop coming and give lots of excuses like, well, I'm too busy, I got other priorities, but the real problem is that coming to church interferes with their sinning. It's hard to be continually sexually immoral and take communion each week. It's hard to consume pornography and then come here and then consume the Lord's Supper. It's very hard to do. One of those things have got to give. It's difficult to abuse ourselves with drugs or alcohol, or other substances, and then hear sermons about self-control and Christian living. Who wants to hear that?
It's impossible to serve the God of men and the god of money and success and be part of a group that is trying to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, and do both at the same time. You can only serve one effectively.
It's hypocritical to call oneself a Christian, but devote all of our time to pleasure, or things, or games, or work, or self, and give nothing, or next to nothing, in time or resources, or effort to the Lord. I know. People say, there're only 24 hours in the day. I know. That's not an excuse. That's a reality.
Paul had such a disciple, named Demas. For a time, he traveled with the inner circle of missionaries, like Luke and Mark, even helping while Paul was imprisoned. Later on, Paul says of him that he quit the work. He quit the Lord, he quit the church, not because of overwork or hardship, but because he loved this present world, II Timothy 4:10, "for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica."
He was a good example of one who quits simply because he would rather be involved in the things of this world, rather than the things of the kingdom of God, the church. Sin keeps people out of heaven because it takes them out of the church, here on earth, first. And you can't get there if you're not here now. You can't get to heaven later if you're not in the church now. That's how it works.
Why I preached this lesson
Aside from simply transferring this important information, I've explained why people quit for two reasons.
1. Many among us have quit for the very reasons that I mentioned.
The Lord adds to our number each year, absolutely, but Satan manages to subtract numbers, as well. Because, you see, both of them are at work. The Lord is at work, but Satan is at work, too. They're both at work. If all those who quit in the last 20 years were here today, this building would not hold everybody.
2. Many more of you will be tempted to quit in the future for the very same reasons that people have quit in the past.
Nothing has changed about this since the beginning of time. Satan cannot take the Christian's reward of heaven from him. The only way the Christian loses eternal life in the future is by quitting on the Christian life that he has now. That's the only way it happens. Please, don't ever quit because you will regret it if you do. You'll regret it because:
- Jesus may come and you'll be counted with the quitters and the unbelievers and He'll say, "I never knew you."
- With the Lord's help, we'll succeed in establishing a strong church, here, for the future generations. And in doing so, we'll be able to rejoice with all of the faithful brethren who came before us and laid the groundwork for the church that has served us and our families now. These babies that are going to be born and these little children running around, we're building the strong congregation, here, for them to grow up in, for them to be married in, for them to have their children in, and for them to go forward in the future, long after we're gone.
- We need each other. We need the help, and the presence, and the prayer, and the effort of every single one of the people here today. Don't quit because without you this congregation is not what it should and what it can be.
So, if you've quit in your heart, but your body is still in the building, change your mind and ask God to renew your Spirit so you can be re-energized to do your work, or to be strengthened to be faithful, or to be forgiven and restored. Whatever you need to do to make sure that you don't quit, do it today.