Deciding to Stay or Go

I feel like my time here may be finished? How do I know when it’s time to go? Should I stay or move on?

We encounter this tough decision many times in our lives. Should we leave our job? Our church? Is it time to resign from teaching Sunday school? What about the ministry where I volunteer? Which extra activities should I let go of? Can I press through the challenges and stick it out?

How do we make an intentional, not reactive, decision to stay or go?

Global worker and author, Sue Eenigenburg, invited me to cowrite a workbook* with her in which we offer thirteen reflection questions to address this topic. While we focused primarily on cross-cultural ministry, the questions we ask are pertinent to any Christian in a number of settings. I share some of them with the desire that they will help you with any decision you may be facing today:

Who should I talk to and when?

Every decision involves necessary conversations. Sharing your thoughts and ideas with trusted advisors, mentors, and spiritual directors can help ensure you don’t make a rash decision. Discussing your desires with those most affected by them, while uncomfortable, may lead to a compromise or necessary changes. And it might also help them accept your decision because they feel part of it.

What part do my relationships play in this decision?

Perhaps you’re tempted to leave because it seems easier to just go than address a difficult relationship. Or you might be annoyed or offended by troublesome colleagues. Sometimes we need to seek resolution or reconciliation with those around us rather than resort to a drastic response which affects location, income, and home. But other times we need to remove ourselves from unhealthy environments.

What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

Decision making forces us to face our fears. Determine if fear is holding you back from moving ahead or tempting you to run away. Ask God for courage to follow his leading.

What do I know about myself that affects this decision?

The more self-awareness we have, the better we can choose. As you discover more about yourself you can make decisions based on your strengths, talents, and deep desires, not simply on what you have done in the past or might wish to do in the moment.

What changes need to occur for me to stay?

Maybe a few adjustments to your current situation might enable you to continue where you are. Think creatively and ask for some adjustments to be made to schedule, salary, or tasks that might bring more excitement and comfort to your current position.

What key scriptures can encourage and guide me?

Turn to scripture as this is God’s primary method of guiding us. Read it, study it, meditate on it, expect God to speak through it and confirm what you sense he is saying in other spheres.

What would I be going to?

Determine your next steps, if you can. Sometimes what’s ahead can make the current step clearer. Other times, the future is foggy but we inch out in faith anyway. If possible, let the future help you determine if you should stay or go.

Lord, as we seek answers to these questions, we listen for your Holy Spirit’s wisdom and discernment.

*For more reflective questions, fuller descriptions, scripture meditation, and further resources, see Grit to Stay Grace to Go: Staying Well in Cross-Cultural Ministry, (Littleton, CO: William Carey Publishing), 2023.

Eva has been teaching and mentoring women for over thirty-five years. Her experience as a missionary kid in Papua New Guinea, cross-cultural worker in Indonesia, women’s ministry director, and Bible College adjunct professor adds a global dimension to her study of Scripture and the stories she tells. Through her blog, Pondered Treasures, and her book, Favored Blessed Pierced: A Fresh Look at Mary of Nazareth, Eva invites readers to slow down, reflect, and practically apply God’s word to life. Currently she and her husband live in Richardson, Texas and promote the well-being of global workers in a church planting mission agency. A graduate of Baylor University, she also has a Master of Christian Education from Columbia International University in Columbia, S.C. Crafting (specifically macramé) and spending time with her two sons and a daughter-in-law rejuvenates her soul.

Leave a Reply