By Linda Ahlgrim
Ever wonder if it’s quitting time? Every church volunteer has probably faced a time when they felt that way. More often than not, these frustrations arise from interpersonal conflict and should be seen as opportunities to practice humility and become more like Christ, not as reasons to quit.
But sometimes we do need to step away from our ministry. Sometimes quitting is the most unselfish choice we can make.
IT MAY BE QUITTING TIME IF . . .
You need to say “no” to a serving opportunity to make room for God’s bigger “yes” in your life.
I was recently speaking with a friend who loves Jesus, loves the church, and loves to serve. But she confessed that she and her husband once let things get totally out of control. When their marriage began to suffer, they stepped back and realized one or both of them was at church nearly every day of the week, and juggling full-time careers at the same time! Little by little, as they kept saying “yes” to every opportunity, weariness crept in and Satan took advantage of it.
Sometimes people see a need and are too quick to jump in and try to fill it themselves, when the Holy Spirit actually has someone else in mind for that role. Spiritual gifts are given to us as a means of helping the church. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:11, “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.”* If you feel like you don’t have what it takes, you may be trying to do someone else’s job.
You have failed to conduct yourself in a way that brings glory to God.
Although each of us will admit to falling far short of perfection, we also know leaders in the church are called to live to a higher standard. For those who serve in a highly visible role, either in the church or in the community, it’s important to set a good example for others. Spiritual or moral failure is a valid reason to step out of the limelight until our life is back on track. As Paul told Timothy, “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
You feel you deserve extra credit for doing what you do.
Serving God is a privilege, but if you start to feel more important than others because of how you serve, spiritual pride may be rearing its ugly head. This could be a good time to take a break and examine your reasons for serving, before Satan uses that pride to make you fall. Jesus warned his disciples about this danger by saying, “When you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty’” (Luke 17:10).
You sense that it’s time.
I love teaching the children in our church, but I know that someday, when I can no longer drag my stiff knees off those pint-sized chairs, it will be time for a change. It’s not all about me, and when the time comes, I know God will bring a younger volunteer to take my place. As wise King Solomon once said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, New International Version).
May God give us all the wisdom to know when our season of serving should come to an end . . .
at least here on earth. In Revelation 22:3 we’re reminded that in the kingdom that is to come, “His servants will serve him” (NIV). The truth is, our greatest season of service will be throughout all eternity, and that will never end.
*Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation, unless otherwise indicated.
Linda Ahlgrim, retired director of children’s ministry with Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot, Colorado, now serves as a third-grade Sunday school teacher and will probably continue until she can no longer get up and down off the floor.