Faith Reflections,  My Life

Quitting Things


On Sunday, I preached a sermon that I struggle to practice. Nothing new there. The gist was that you cannot help everyone so do for one what you wish you could do for everyone – something I’ve been challenged by for 9 months since hearing Andy Stanley say that to a bunch of us at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. Go deep with a handful of relationships and responsibilities so you can be engaged with those select people and situations in the way that truly creates an environment of discipleship and transformation – for both parties. Have faith that this process is a living process that multiplies itself by its sheer witness to others. You don’t have to help everyone. Let the witness that comes from loving people and doing things well fuel others to do for others. This was reinforced to me recently after attending the Storyline Conference in Nashville with Donald Miller. I have too many roles. We are designed, at our best, to handle three to five primary roles. The more roles we commit ourselves to the more we dilute our effectiveness in and our blessings from those roles.

One of the things that has to happen first for most of us is that we have to quit some things. Quit some relationships. Quit some responsibilities. This is the tough part for me. I think I’m learning to do better about saying no to new things. But how do you put the brakes on things already in motion? Especially relationships.

With project-oriented roles that I am quitting, I am setting up a time line of sorts. It goes against my work ethic to leave people high and dry if I’ve made a commitment to them but I’m also learning that if I don’t put a clear deadline for when my work is done than there is the risk of dragging things out. I’m not going to purposefully burden them with a mess I create from a hasty withdrawal. It also helps me see light at the end of the tunnel and gives the other party time to prepare for the change. If you need to quit some projects, try to make the transition as honorable and positive as possible. You may not be able to tie up every loose end but you can maybe prevent a tangled mess of knots from being your lasting memory with them.

With relationships that I am quitting, it isn’t quite as easy. Typing that even sounds horrible to me. However, I think the real quitting I have to do is putting an end to how much thought and emotion I give to others. If I look at it honestly, I don’t give a lot of physical time to others. I simply don’t have it to give and am now working on giving more to my primary roles. What I do expend a lot of time on is worrying about what others think, what their reaction will be, what their motives are, if I’ve hurt them by not being more available to them. Quitting relationships for me will be more in the vein of quitting trying to please others or to figure them out. Basically – I need to stay on my pillow. (You should really click the link and learn more about what I mean.) There will be some relationships I have to physically step out of – not get together as often, not respond to every call or email, etc. but mostly, I have some mental and emotional relationships that I must quit.

What are some primary roles that you want to devote yourself to more? What are other roles, responsibilities or relationships that you need to quit and how will you quit them? Leave your comment: here.


  • Tina Brandon

    this is very intersting   the one thing i can say is i have been on the other end of people walking away from friendships but with no explanations  that is harder than people being honest and saying this isnt working we need to try something else or we need to walk away from it   all relationships healthy or otherwise fill a need or help complete us in some way   I did read the pillow link and it also gives me much food for thought thanks

    • Melissa Hatfield

      Tina – you are so right.  We owe it to one another to be honest and to communicate about changes in relationships that are happening or that are needed.  It is cowardly to just walk away without explanation.  I’ve been on both sides of this myself, unfortunately. I regret that.
      Relationships can exist on many levels.  However, most of us try to go deep with too many and thus go deep with very few, if any.  Or we encounter someone that we really do need to go deep with but we purposefully keep it shallow because it is just too messy or will require too much. No easy answers at all. 

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