Sometimes I simply want to quit—maybe the numbers on Sunday were down, the sermon didn’t go as well as planned, or…. You get the picture. I’ll be honest, that happens most often on Monday mornings!
If it’s not the pastorate, it is something else—my diet or exercise plan, maybe it’s something at home, or sometimes it’s between me and God. It’s human. It’s life.
Generally, you start off fast, visualizing the destination. Everything seems easy. You are a little surprised but soon become over-confident. You think, “This isn’t so hard. I’ve got this. No problem.”
But, inevitably, you come to the middle of the story. It’s there that things get difficult. You’re working hard, but you don’t feel you are making progress. You feel trapped; you grow weary, frustrated, or angry.
Eventually, you push through and reach the destination. Then you realize that the destination isn’t all that important. Instead, it is what happened to you on the journey—how you have changed and what you’ve become.
In other words, the really important stuff happens in the middle. Miller describes it this way,
[People] come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it is harder than they thought. They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.” (p. 179)
Sometimes we want an easier story. Sometimes we just want to quit.
That’s when we need to pause—get some perspective.
- Am I taking care of myself? If I am not getting proper rest, nutrition, and exercise, it will affect my attitude. Sometimes a night’s rest, a good meal, or a nice walk can change everything.
- Am I asking the right questions? Questions are very powerful. But they can be positive or negative. If I ask the wrong ones, I will be left disempowered and depleted. Here are some good ones—
- What does this challenge/struggle make possible?
- What do I like about this relationship/circumstance/job?
- How does this challenge provide a way for me to grow?
- What is really at stake here and why do I need to finish?
- Who can help me? Usually, it’s my wife. Sometimes you may need the counsel of a pastor, a coach, a friend, or even a therapist.
The older I get, the more I see the need to “stay in the story.” Sure, it’s tempting to hang it up. But if you do, you may miss the most important part of your life.