One of the greatest soccer games that I every played in took place on a rainy, fall day in Phoenixville, PA. The year was 1995 and I was a freshman at Valley Forge Christian College. After a few years on hiatus of playing organized soccer I was eager to attend soccer camp. I made it through most of the camp but quit just short of the beginning of the season because I didn't like the coach and I questioned my desire to play the game.
After about a week away and with the encouragement of one of my teammates I returned to the team. I had a talk with the coach who would later become the best coach I had ever played for and my passion for the game had been renewed. Although both teams were fairly equal in talent we were down 2-3 with just a few minutes remaining. I remember that the ball lived on their side of the field for most of those final minutes but we could not make the most of our opportunities. It was a hard fought game and a lousy way to lose but I can honestly say that not a one of us ever quit.
Have you ever felt like quitting? Sure, we all have. It's as universal as the need to be loved, valued, and accepted. We get tired of losing and the scars seem to accumulate, and I'm not talking about sports. We lose jobs, a marriage dissolves, a loved one passes away, and we just seem to be on the side of the "have nots." But, I know one thing, if you choose to quit then your choice affects those around you and it affects those you have yet to meet.
If one of us would have quit in that soccer game then we would have been quitting on the entire team. I'm glad that I did not follow through and quit. I would have never experienced the highs of being a team captain and an All Conference player or the lows of a losing season and an injury that I can still feel to this day.
Let me encourage you with some stories of some real people who chose not to quit:
As a young man, Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. Afterwards, he was a failure as a businessman. As a lawyer in Springfield, he was too impractical and temperamental to be a success. He turned to politics and was defeated in his first try for the legislature, again defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and defeated in the senatorial election of 1858. At about that time, he wrote in a letter to a friend, "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth."
Winston Churchill failed sixth grade. He was subsequently defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62. He later wrote, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up."
Thomas Edison's teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything." He was fired from his first two jobs for being "non-productive." As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."
An expert said of Vince Lombardi: "He possesses minimal football knowledge and lacks motivation." Lombardi would later write, "It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get back up."
27 publishers rejected Dr. Seuss's first book, To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called him "hopeless as a composer." And, of course, you know that he wrote five of his greatest symphonies while completely deaf.
The Gettysburg Address, A Great Prime Minister, The Light Bulb, The Lombardi Trophy, "The Cat in the Hat", and Symphony #5 would have never happened if these people would have chosen to quit.
Jesus did not want to endure the punishment that He was about to receive. He had seen what the Romans did to their enemies and He asked His Father for an alternative route but was denied. True to form, Jesus got up, stuck out His chest and allowed the Spirit man to take over. He knew that He would be beaten beyond recognition and die a horrible death on the cross but He didn't quit. This was His destiny and I believe that He saw every one of our faces that day and the Spirit of God was flowing through his veins like an adrenaline rush. He didn't give up and He didn't quit. His purpose was fulfilled and I'm thankful that it was finished.
Philippians 1:6 says, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." I know what it's like to lose a job, more than once. I know how much it hurts to lose a loved one. I know how desperate it feels when the scars don't seem to heal. But, I also know that I serve a God who has a plan far greater than what I could imagine for myself. If I quit then I will never know what that plan is and I simply cannot live with not knowing. I hated to lose that game but I hate it even more to think that I would never know what my purpose is. Don't quit!
Jamie Zirkle currently resides with his wife and son in his hometown of Winchester, VA. He is licensed with the Assemblies of God. Jamie continues to serve as a lay leader in Victory Church while he waits on God to open the next ministry opportunity for him. You can read more articles from Jamie at his blog (http://jamiezirkle.wordpress.com/) and connect with him on LinkedIn