Monday, February 11, 2013

Knowing When to Call it Quits

Like the rest of the world, I was shocked to wake up this morning and find two new things:  First, there was 6 inches of snow outside my kitchen window.  Second, that the pope, his holy see, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Benedict XVI, just announced his eminent (one might say his imminent eminent...) resignation as leader of the 1 billion + member church.  This was the first such resignation of a pope since at least the end of the dark ages, and certainly the first resignation from such a position that wasn't motivated by even the slightest tincture of immorality or question.  At first, I must admit, I was a bit wistful of this pope's decision to call it quits.  While Benedict has been criticized by many for his ultra orthodox views on the faith, I for one have found his theological leanings in large part comforting.  After pondering Benedict's resignation all morning, I have come to the conclusion that it is in fact a VERY wise move, and that it serves as a model and an example of the importance of:

Knowing When to Call it Quits

I have a friend who served as a very successful pastor of a relatively large Presbyterian Church.  My friend served in this church upwards of 10 years, and offered the church great leadership, and provided a national platform for all kinds of innovations and reforms.  At a relatively early age, his early 50's my friend announced to his congregation that he has decided to retire, and make room for another pastor.  The congregation were aghast.  How could a person leave his position at such a crucial and critical time of growth and leadership?  "Simple," my friend retorted, "I just feel like it's time to...Call it Quits."

On the completely other hand, I know of a business executive who has been CEO of his corporation for about 20 years.  This businessman's career trajectory models and reflects the recent ups and downs of the stock market.  At the beginning of this person's career, his gains were very high.  And then, the trajectory of growth declined significantly.  For the past 10 years there has been no growth in his corporation at all.  One might argue that this person did not;

Know When to Call it Quits

The Bible is clear about the fact that there is a beginning point for all things and an ending point.  "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...a time to keep, and a time to throw away" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-6).  Usually the people around us are better at knowing what life stage we are in than we are.  It is usually obvious to everyone but ourselves that our time in a given thing has come to an end.  It is up to us to have the courage and wisdom to discern that moment correctly with God.

All of us will someday reach a juncture in our careers, in our parenting, in a large project that we are taking on that we will need to have wisdom about when to begin and when to end.  When we are not functioning at a level that we would like to, we should know when to call it quits.  When our kids have left home, we reach a juncture of parenting when we need to know when to call that stage of life parenting quits.  When we come to end of a big project, we must have the wisdom to know when to end.

So, here's to Pope Benedict, who has shown the rest of the world that sometimes it is wiser to quit than to keep on going.

All For Now,

1 comment:

  1. The first half of verse 6, Ecclesiastes 3, says it a little firmer. "a time to search and a time to give up,". Job didn't give up. Of course he wanted to, but he didn't. I've wanted to, but i don't. Sure i need to take a time out, and regroup. Just quit? Surely the pope knew the job wouldn't be easy, he must have known old age was imminent. Jesus knew what was going to happen to himself....did he give up, quit?