“A leader never quits!”
From the moment we take our first baby-steps in leadership, this anti-quitting sentiment is drilled into our heads.
But an episode that unfolded in my days as executive pastor in a large church jolted me into realizing that this axiom is simply not always true.
Sometimes, leaders must have the courage to quit.
We had been running an evangelism initiative in our church annually for more than 5 years.
In its early days the results had been impressive. Each time this outreach was launched we’d see dozens of people make decisions to become followers of Christ.
But in later years the results seemed to taper off.
No matter how much energy, time and resources we poured into the initiative, the results we had seen in the early days simply couldn’t be replicated.
Faced with these realities, I gathered up our senior team and tossed a seemingly radical thought on the table.
“Team,” I began, “this outreach initiative has generated wonderful results in the past, but I think we can all see that it no longer seems to be effective. I’m suggesting we discontinue this.”
Immediately, and predictably, the response was very negative. “We can’t quit!” one leader began.
“Why not?” I asked.
After a moment of reflection my teammate replied as if by rote, “Well…leaders never quit.”
In fact, what I was learning then and believe even more strongly today, there are times when a leader must quit.
Specifically, there are at least 3 times a leader should consider saying “I quit”:
1. When the results no longer justify the investment
Leaders, pay attention to the ROKI: Return on Kingdom Investment.
2. When the organization’s values and/or strategies have changed
An intentional shift in the overall direction of the church can render some initiatives out of sync.
3. When personnel on board are no longer qualified or able to effectively lead the initiative.
Sometimes God moves people in an out of leadership, signaling a time to re-evaluate ministries and programs.
To be sure, ending any initiative should never be considered capriciously and without considerable prayer and counsel.
But at the same time, don’t allow a narrow view of the expression “leaders never quit” to limit your options.
Because sometimes the best option is to simply stop.
Are there other occasions when a leader needs to quit?