At Work

Quiet Quitting, Vocation & Values

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Naming a vague sense can bring our thoughts into focus. The phrase “quiet quitting” has done just that. 

Zaid Kahn said in a TikTok video, “I recently learned about this term called quiet quitting, where you’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond…You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is it’s not—and your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.” 

Many workers resonate with the idea of “quiet quitting” and feel that it’s a necessary and healthy correction, and others feel that it’s giving up on more than a job. “Quiet quitting isn’t just about quitting on a job, it’s a step toward quitting on life,” complains Arianna Huffington, arguing quiet quitters would be better served finding jobs they are passionate about.” 

Businesses are coming to grips with workers who are no longer willing to work weekends and/or 12-hour days, says a Wall Street Journal article, “Your Coworkers Are Less Ambitions; Bosses Adjust to New Order.”

“These days, many workers are content doing the same job they’ve done…The pay is comfortable, the company is stable and many workers want to make time for friends and activities: ‘That’s OK, but you have to have people—we constantly look for people—who have drive, that we feel like we can promote to higher-paying jobs in the organization,’” says Damon Diamantaras, CEO of an insurance company.

There are financial factors, of course, and some are deciding to “act their wage.” “Many workers say they see little connection between working hard and being rewarded. About half of the 1,071 respondents to a May survey by The Wall Street Journal and NORC at the University of Chicago said they don’t have a good chance of improving their standard of living, compared with 27% who said they do. The 27% figure was a 20 percentage-point drop from a year earlier. About 60% said they were pessimistic about most people’s ability to achieve the American dream.”

Quiet quitting has no doubt always been a feature of the workplace. Derek Thompson, in an Atlantic article, says, “What people are now calling ‘quiet quitting’ was, in previous decades, simply known as ‘having a job.’” There have always been those who do the minimum and others who do far more than what is asked of them. It’s also possible that the definition of the American dream is changing to emphasize relationships and experiences rather than financial rewards. But according to the NPR article, “Most observers seem to agree that the recent enthusiasm for quiet quitting says something about our post-pandemic zeitgeist.”

What I read in these articles is that workers are weighing the pros and cons of time and effort spent on the job. What will be the cost in relationships, health, and relaxation? What are the financial implications? Is it worth it?

Vocation

God calls some people to work in roles that demand more than a typical forty-hour week. If that’s you, by all means, do your best work. If there are months or years when you are called to work more and/or harder, follow your vocation; ignore the quiet quitting chatter. 

It is a challenge to develop space for family, relaxation, and rest during those times, and I admire those who have the physical and emotional energy to fit it all into their schedules. If you are in a high stress job that takes more time than most, it’s important to develop a rhythm of rest and time for relationships. 

Nehemiah and the Israelites worked many hours with minimal rest while they were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. He understood that God had called him to lead that effort, and he resisted temptations and threats to make sure the community completed the job. It was stressful, and I’m sure there were days when Nehemiah was exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit, but he persevered.

Ask yourself why you are sacrificing precious time on the job. If the answer is that God called you to that work, then keep at it. If you are doing it for money, because others expect it of you, or to satisfy yourself so that you can reach the heights of your career, then it may be time to reevaluate your priorities. 

Values

Not everyone values the corporate climb. When I was a project leader, there were high pressure weeks when extra work was necessary, but in general, I didn’t work many twelve-hour days. My family, friends, and volunteer work were important to me, and I left the workforce as those areas grew. I don’t regret leaving the corporate world, but there was a financial and experiential price to pay. My life would have been very different if I had invested in my career. My experiences and areas of knowledge vary greatly from what they would have been, but I believe I followed my values and my calling. 

Jesus was a carpenter. Paul was a tentmaker. Peter was a fisherman. They did not set their hearts on climbing up society’s status ladder, becoming wealthy, or obtaining worldly power, but they did what they valued and were called to do. We are each responsible for doing the work that God has called us to do, and those whose important callings are in volunteer work, hobbies, or relationships may not invest as much time in their jobs.  

Celebrate the diverse vocations and values that God has given us, for we need every one of them. I thank God for the variety of vocations and values that he has placed in all of us, for they make life around us interesting, enjoyable, and fruitful.

Three Questions to Consider in the Post-Pandemic Zeitgeist

  1. Why am I in this job? Is this what God has called me to do? Those can be difficult questions to answer, and it may take years, but it’s a good time to begin the process.
  2. What do I value? If you wake up every day dreading another day at the office, consider your values. Finances are a factor, for sure, but spend some time pondering where you want to invest your time and perhaps take steps toward what you most value. 
  3. How do I feel about those who are quiet quitting or, conversely, heading toward burnout? Am I threatened by either one? Trust that we have each made decisions prayerfully. 

The cultural chatter around quiet quitting may have caused you to confront work related angst, which is healthy. Whatever you think about quiet quitting, may the Lord bring you closer to understanding your vocation and clarifying your values. We need everyone’s work as God directs. 

Further readings on At Work

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