When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People

When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People

by Gary L. Thomas

NOOK Book(eBook)

View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


Your life's calling is too important to let toxic people take it away. In When to Walk Away, Gary Thomas--bestselling author of Sacred Marriage--draws from biblical and modern stories to equip you with practical insights to handle toxic people in your life and live true to your God-given purpose. 

As Christians, we often feel the guilt and responsibility of meeting the needs of unhealthy people in our lives. Whether a sibling, parent, spouse, coworker, or friend, toxic people frequently seek to frustrate our life's calling. While you're seeking first God's kingdom, they're seeking first to distract your focus and delay your work. 

Instead of attempting the impossible task of mollifying toxic people, it's time we dedicate our energy to the only worthwhile effort: completing the work God has given us by investing in reliable people. It's only when we learn to say no to bad patterns that we can say yes to the good work God has planned for us. 

Bestselling author of Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas looks at biblical examples from the lives of Jesus, Paul, and Nehemiah. Drawing from years serving as a pastor, Thomas shares modern stories and practical examples for dealing with the toxic people in our lives. Each chapter includes insightful takeaways that you can apply right away. You'll discover how to:

  • Learn the difference between difficult people and toxic people
  • Find refuge in God when you feel under attack
  • Discern when to walk away from a toxic situation
  • Keep a tender heart even in unhealthy relationships
  • Grow your inner strength and invest in reliable people

 We can't let others steal our joy or our mission. It's time to strengthen our defense, learn to set healthy boundaries, and focus on our God-given purpose. It's time to know When to Walk Away.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310346791
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 10/08/2019
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 50,396
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Gary Thomas is a writer in residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member teaching on spiritual formation at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and Houston Theological Seminary in Houston, Texas. He is the author of 19 books, including Sacred Marriage, Sacred Pathways, Cherish, Sacred Parenting, and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Authentic Faith. He has a master’s degree from Regent College, where he studied under Dr. J.I. Packer, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Western Seminary. Gary has spoken in 49 states and 10 different countries. He has appeared numerous times on various national radio and television programs, including CBN, Focus on the Family and Family Life Today.


Table of Contents

1 A Most Clever Attack 9

2 Walkaway Jesus 17

3 A Murderous Spirit 26

4 Control Mongers 38

5 Loving Hate 47

6 No Time to Waste 57

7 Reliable People 68

8 Pigs and Pearls 76

9 Love Tells the Truth 87

10 A Man with a Mission 94

11 Looking Like Jesus When Working with Judas 108

12 Learning How to Be Hated 118

13 Scripture's Skeleton 128

14 A New Allegiance 139

15 The Most Vicious Attack 146

16 Toxic Parents 153

17 Toxic Marriages 166

18 Leaving the Toxicity Instead of the Marriage 181

19 Toxic Children 192

20 Trading Toxic for Tender 202

21 Don't Be Toxic to Yourself 215

Epilogue 223

Acknowledgments 225

Appendix: Jesus Walking Away 227

Notes 235

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Withrowslady 3 months ago
When to walk away is an excellent read!! A real eye opener for me. To read how many times Jesus walked away amazed me. I have read the bible but never thought about it the way Gary writes in this book. I have learned a lot about myself and the people I want around me.
Jennilove 3 months ago
This book is refreshingly liberating – setting us free from the mindset of “forgiveness = tolerating abuse”. Packed with practical examples and solidly backed by scripture, Gary Thomas unpacks the truth that sometimes the healthiest thing for a relationship is to walk away.The book is easy to read with short chapters, but filled with solid truth. This book is a must read for anyone in a toxic relationship or helping others with toxic relationships. Worth every cent I spent on it, it will be part of my library and shared with whomever I can persuade to read it.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I sit here in awe. I have just finished reading “When to Walk Away.” There is not a short “condensed” way to tell of my “take aways” from this book. It is - for me - one of the most life-changing reads in recent years. It has changed the way I see and deal in all relationships...including how I deal and talk to myself. Putting on compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience is now a daily goal. If someone were to ask me for the Reader’s Digest version, I would simply have to say, “Just read the book. There is not a shorter version. Take in every morsel and apply every step to your life.” Gary Thomas - thank you for tackling a much needed subject in the church, outside the church, in our homes, and throughout the world! You have blessed us yet again. Now....I have to start the reading over so I can catch what I didn’t catch the first time! Thank you! #whentowalkaway
Anonymous 4 months ago
The word and concept of toxic are thrown around too easily, and often as pretext for ignoring the other person or worse - treating the person with toxicity. Gary Thomas writes about the toxic individual - the ones that are not just difficult or or sometimes unpleasant, but the ones who want to hurt others. The consistently cause chaos, are simply against things, seeking to silence others, attempting to stop the other person from doing what the Lord is inviting them to do, and scapegoating. He helps to define the characteristics of a toxic person without demonizing or condoning, but helping those in the grips of the toxic person to recognize the problems. That being toxic might be unconscious, but Gary lists three types: those with a murderous spirit, those with a desire for control, or those who simply love to hate, and any combination of these three. He keeps steering people back to the Christian response - how to ask themselves “What would Jesus NOT do?” He keeps asking the reader “What does your mission require?” not in so many words. He reminds the reader that Jesus walked away, allowed others to walk away, and, at times, He even sent others away. Gary warns against labeling people toxic for everyone else, and invites the reader to properly discern the issue - is it me, the other, or a combination. Instead of engaging in toxic behavior that gains nothing, he invites the reader to walk away, following the model of our Savior. He readily states that the purpose we walk away is to protect our God-given mission of continuing to seek and advancing the Kingdom of God and love others, not self-defense. He encourages to seek counsel and relationships from reliable people - those that will help in the mission - and keep us in healthy relationships. He helps the reader to see how Christ focused on His mission without being swayed by Judas, and encourages us to learn to be hated even as we love and testify to the truth. He writes that there is evil and this evil can turn good things bad, a sad reality that Christians need to understand. He encourages the reader to keep hope for the redemption of the toxic person by the Lord, but to be aware that people may get hurt. He encourages the reader treat the toxic person as if they are healthy, it is perhaps the only way to allow the toxic person to be alone with their behavior, and to call them out and protect others. This is where labeling a person is helpful - not to dismiss the person, but in humiity to understand the problem and to return to the mission. He confronts, head on, the adage of not being Christian when we limit the toxic person’s damage “I thought you were Christian…” I thought Christians had to forgive…” etc. . He addresses toxicity at work, at Church or christian circle, in marriage and family. Gary shares a beautiful story of what can happen if a married couple allow Christ to transform them individually and together. He also addresses the issue of toxic adult children in a way that is balanced and firm without being overly simplistic. Most importantly, though, Gary addresses the issue of being toxic to oneself by focusing on personal imperfections and failures instead of the grace of Jesus Christ, the fact that we are called, chosen, and loved. Most of all, Gary offers the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ that we can all be redeemed.
Anonymous 15 days ago
This was an excellent book and really opened my eyes to what it is like to be in relationship with a toxic person. The book was easy to read and gave practical advice on how to deal with toxic people and also how to walk away from the relationship when you decide it’s necessary. I highly recommend the book for just about everyone because we all have dealings with toxic people even if we aren’t totally conscious of it.
LaurenCalla 17 days ago
When To Walk Away is a must read for everyone! When I first heard the title and topic, I assumed it was more relationship based (dating or marriage), but this book targets all connections (acquaintance to family). Gary Thomas, as usual, uses Scripture to support his discussion points. I was amazed looking at the numerous ways Jesus handled toxic people. This book is more than just “when to walk away” – it will give you much more insight into types of toxicity, how to handle these people, and how to handle yourself. I’m so grateful that this book was written. I’ve already shared excerpts to friends and family members who need to purchase this book!
Anonymous 30 days ago
God definitely used this book to begin the healing process from a very toxic relationship! Not only did God use this book to expose areas where I literally couldn't change the situation by my actions, but it exposed the toxicity in myself! As I progressed through the book I found myself relating a lot to some of the examples in the book. I found myself examining my heart and my motives and coming closer to the Lord. It became less and less about "how he hurt me," and more about how God can change my heart. Halleluja! I am so thankful that God used this book to draw me nearer to him! I finally am experiencing peace.
Dlvirwin 30 days ago
I am already a fan of Gary Thomas so it was no surprise that I would love this book. It's quite a bit different from his others, though his writing style is the same. He is always clear, sticking to scripture and making it all make perfect sense. Sometimes the Bible can seem contradictory when it comes to the topic of dealing with toxic people. Gary does an amazing job of untangling that. It's an incredibly timely book to address the use, abuse and function of the grace gospel. It teaches how to recognize, acknowledge and deal with the toxic people who twist God's word and manipulate the compassion and empathy of well-meaning people. Thank you for this book Mr. Gary Thomas! I am already recommending it to my friends and family.
treytomes 3 months ago
One of my favorite aspects of Gary Thomas's writing is how he manages to link classical Christian writings with contemporary examples. He has continued that style of research and writing in this book. I also really appreciate how he goes back to the life of Jesus to bring out examples of how to deal with toxic people. This quote seems to pretty well summarize what the book is trying to teach: "It’s not about protecting yourself from toxic people (though that’s a valid aim); it’s more about protecting your mission from toxic attacks."
LPK 3 months ago
Gary Thomas has given us an indispensable resource to help us focus on our primary calling and find freedom from the toxic people that would keep us from it. I read a pre-release copy and immediately started encouraging people to pre-order the book. It is a must-have, must-read and must pass on resource. Gary is an excellent communicator with a heart for the Lord and for people. Based on solid analysis and application of Scripture, this book serves as a practical tool to help us identify toxic people and learn to play “defense” in order to “make the most of the one life God gives us.” Take note: toxic people aren’t just difficult people. They’re people who love to hate, seek to destroy and consistently oppose good faith efforts to try to work with them. Gary clearly states the heart of the matter is dealing with toxic people from a spiritual perspective. “It’s not about protecting yourself from toxic people (though that’s a valid aim); it’s more about protecting your mission from toxic attacks. . . The call to seek first the kingdom of God is the foundation for how we can biblically respond to toxic people.” Yes and yes! Read this book. Take in this truth. Learn when to walk away from toxic people. Then walk in freedom!
Anonymous 3 months ago
I recently finished Gary’s Thomas’s new book “When to Walk Away; Finding Freedom from Toxic People.” Thomas lists and discusses the characteristics of toxic people and points out that most people in our lives are just difficult or different from us, not necessarily toxic. Never the less, he calls attention to the necessity of recognizing toxic people and gives practical strategies for dealing with them because of the pernicious they can have on us and our pursuit of God’s call on our lives. I found this book thought-provoking. I never really contemplated the notion of toxic people before and I certainly hadn’t considered how they affected my life.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I learned so much from this book! It helped me reevaluate several relationships in my life. There was also freedom in the realization that people who are toxic to me and the calling God has put in my life might not be toxic to other people. If time with others is not fruitful, its ok to move on with out guilt. Invest time in reliable people! This was a good reminder too, "We don't have to pretend that toxic people aren't toxic: we just have to learn a non toxic way of interacting with them." The author gives a lot of practical application too, which I like. I have already bought two copies to send to friends who want help and understanding with difficult people in their families, church and workplace. Definitely a worthwhile book!
KarenHolland 3 months ago
Gary Thomas has done it again! He’s gifted us with another heart-searching and motive-clarifying book that delves beyond the seen to the unseen. He doesn’t simply paste new leaves on a dead tree, but in true Gary Thomas fashion draws us deeper to the roots and addresses the issues of life from a root/heart perspective. “When to Walk Away” is a seemingly strong and different stance from Gary’s other books such as Sacred Marriage and Cherish; however, the theme of having and living God’s heart of love, truth, mission, and purpose rings clear and true throughout the entire book. An example of this is found in chapter 9 where Gary talks of how real love for others seeks the truth. Gary states that it is important to truthfully define and label toxic behaviors/individuals. This clarifies a situation and directs the relationship. From the perspective of truth there is safety and clarity. This is the time to examine one’s own heart to make sure one’s motives and mission are pure and Christlike. Labeling is not name calling. As Gary writes, “The fruit of labeling is positive . . . the motivation is love. . . We’re not seeking harm; we’re seeking to understand and discern how best to serve God. The fruit of name calling is destructive. It’s about destroying someone’s reputation” (p. 92). I really appreciate Gary’s honesty and Christlike heart. This book addresses the gamut of toxic relationships and gives clear guidelines on how to know when to walk away from these relationships and best serve God in the midst of toxic situations. Definitely an inspiring and self-challenging must-read book!
Anonymous 3 months ago
When To Walk Away is a book that everyone needs to read. I think most of us have difficult & toxic people in our lives, and are often at a loss on how we should respond to them. As Christians, many of us tend to focus on 'Jesus, meek & mild' and 'turning the other cheek', but fail to realize Jesus many times walked away from toxic people (like the Pharisees). He wasn't desperate, manipulative, or controlling--but mission-focused to his deepest core. There are certain people who drain us, demean us, and distract us from other healthy relationships. Often, they keep us from becoming who God created us to be. We lose sight of our mission and spend all of our time trying to figure out or fix someone who doesn't want to 'be fixed'. Toxic people murder relationships, families, workplaces, churches, peace, and joy. Toxic describes someone who feels comfortable using rage, slander, anger, and malice in their attempts to control others. They are energized by conflict! Maybe it's time to realize with some people, we just can't interact in a healthy way. God can use someone else to reach them. We may need to entrust them to God and invest our time in 'reliable people', people who are teachable, humble, God-fearing, and God-seeking. Gary Thomas' book addresses pretty much all of our questions on toxic people in a biblical, easy-to-read way. He uses examples about Nehemiah, Judas, and Jesus. He addresses dealing with toxic parents, children, and marriages. This book helped me see that I need to work hard at being healthy myself, and understand that I may not be able to change my toxic person's behavior--but I can learn to respond in a healthy way. Sometimes that means knowing WHEN TO WALK AWAY!
Rosalinda_Avilez- 3 months ago
I experienced freedom as I read this book. The biblical stories that Gary shared in this book empowered me to walk away boldly and courageously. It also taught me to lovingly and firmly set boundaries. As you read this book you will learn that walking away from toxic people is ok. You will find freedom. Gary did such a great job showing us that "Sometimes to follow Jesus is to walk away from others or to let them walk away." I am 34 years old and through this book God has freed me from toxic people and taught me that being a Christian doesn't mean that I have to allow toxic behavior directed at me or my family. He has taught that setting healthy boundaries is good. After years of struggling with guilt for setting boundaries this book and the scriptures Gary shared freed me from the guilt that the toxic people in my life have thrown at me. Yes, I am a Christian and have forgiven but the fact that they have not changed, has resulted in me having to set boundaries to protect my marriage and my children from this people. This book will equip you through God's word and modern stories to walk away so that you may be free and be able to do what God has called you to do.
Julie-Cypress 3 months ago
I was real excited to hear about this book, When to Walk Away. So many of us need the truth and wisdom that is presented in it. Yes, Jesus commands us to love everyone but we can walk away from a toxic relationship and still love the other person. This is true, whether the relationship is with a relative, friend, coworker, anyone. Jesus doesn’t expect us or want us to subject ourselves to the toxic people in our lives. I’m not a great reader... it takes me forever to get through a book. This book really spoke to me though and I read it in about a week! It’s a good read for anyone. We’ve all dealt with toxic people and will continue to as long as we are on this earth. I highly recommend the book. Not only did it help me by offering help on how to deal with toxic people but it encouraged me, telling me what I should be doing with the time that I'd normally spend on them. We should pour our time and efforts into those we can affect, not people we can’t. Here are a couple quotes from the book. “Pouring ourselves out on toxic people is like trying to wash the rain. It's a waste of time that keeps us from more fruitful endeavors". “That's been my experience with toxic individuals. I've never helped one of them; I've just lost tons of time and focus trying to make sense of crazy." "You can try all you want, but thinking you can be the one who breaks through is more likely to humble you than to change them." This is an awesome book and it’s very biblically founded. I’ve struggled with wanting/needing everyone to like me my entire life. No more! It was a relief to hear that that’s not what God wants for me. His plans for me are so much better. When to Walk Away is out now. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed if you read it. #whentowalkaway
Dawnielle Alden 3 months ago
Gary Thomas, in his newest book, “When to Walk Away :Finding Freedom From Toxic People ,. explores toxicity and how Jesus responded to toxic people in his life. I love the premise of this book that just because we are Christians, doesn’t mean that we have to stay in relationship with toxic people. “…toxic individuals feed off misunderstood piety and are enabled by false Christian guilt to spread their attacks far and wide.” (p.10) Gary intermixes examples from Scripture of how Jesus handled the various toxic people he encountered with examples from modern day life and how we to can walk away from others and still be Christians. On page 13, we are given the following definition of toxic: “If Someone is getting in the way of you becoming the person God created you to be or frustrating the work God has called you to do, for you that person is toxic.” Each of the twenty chapters has a section titled “Takeaways” at the end of the chapter that lists in bullet point format the main points that were stressed in the chapter. The appendix titled “Jesus Walking Away” lists the scriptures where Jesus walked away from toxic people he encountered as he went about his mission on earth. “When to Walk Away”. touches on a subject and areas within toxic behaviors that the modern-day church has been loath to discuss. This book is for those wanting a starting place to look at toxic people, their behaviors (including sex addiction, pornography addiction, anger, and victim mentality to name a few) and how our missions are impacted by toxicity. “We hurt the people being hurt if we can’t call evil evil or toxicity toxic.” (p.135) Evil is on the lose and we live a very toxic society full of toxic people and toxic behavior. It’s time for the Church to speak of evil and equip its members, and this book is a good place to begin those conversations I was part of a group that was able to read the book prior to it’s release. I have also purchased a copy of the book to reread it again and to share with my family. #whentowalkaway.
Anonymous 3 months ago
In Gary’s new book “When to Walk Away” he provides the reader with biblical and practical truth for handling the toxic people you come in contact with. I have been waiting for a book like this for a long time! Thank you Gary Thomas for giving me permission to walk away from toxic people and situations in my life. I always felt that as a Christian I couldn’t do this. Now I know it is okay! In order to be all that God is calling me to be, sometimes I have to walk away. Gary writes... “Sometimes to follow in the steps of Jesus is to Walk Away from others or to let them walk away from us.”
Anonymous 3 months ago
Dr Gary Thomas has tackled well a hard topic - dealing with toxic people in your life. He helps you discern the difference between difficult vs toxic. He issues a reminder to not let toxicity keep you from your God given mission. He lays out Biblical truth how to handle this the way Jesus did. He helps us understand how to guard our hearts against becoming toxic ourselves. There are many that struggle with the idea of walking away, that’s it is unbiblical. I did but Gary has unpacked it in a way that is healthy and right in some circumstances. This is a need to read for everyone as no one I said immune from toxic people in their lives.