At Work

Three Things to Consider Before Joining the Great Resignation

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I bet you’ve seriously considered—or at least contemplated—quitting your job. I get it. Most of us have over the past few months. Recent statistics are staggering. Adverse work conditions and challenges for people in every sector during the global COVID crisis have prompted many to join what’s been dubbed “the Great Resignation.”

Initially, many workplaces shuttered their physical spaces for the short-term. With closures, there was some clarity: “Just work from home, at least temporarily. Steer clear of the office and other workplaces. We’ll be back!” But as businesses began to reopen, fuzzy plans unfolded, and instructions often called for employees to return with complicated expectations. As a result of the added pressures and uncertainties from these expectations, even many of those who stuck it out during the initial wave of resignations in the pandemic’s early days are now joining the exodus.

Perhaps you made the leap into a new role. Congratulations! Seriously. New scenery and fresh opportunities can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air. Change can be very good! 

But perhaps you’re still contemplating a transition. Or perhaps your new transition isn’t as positive of a change as you had hoped. Here are three things to remember, whether you’ve already transitioned or you’re still considering a change.

Work is Always Hard

First, consider how our labors and leadership have always been difficult. It’s an age-old issue, COVID or not. Ever since the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, we’ve been battling our sin-cursed condition, including its effect on our work (Gen. 3:17-19). Our current COVID conditions and the resulting workplace stressors are an extreme example of the “thorns and thistles” in our work. The prickly push to quit feels stronger than ever.

It might be helpful to pause and remember that the curse still leaves ugly consequences in every realm of culture, business, and society at large. There are fault lines, relational frustrations, and production foibles in every workplace. People problems and supply chain shortages abound from the fanciest restaurant on the 40th floor in Manhattan to the greasiest garage in Smallville. A big part of “all creation groaning” involves our daily work. It just feels extra-punctuated mid-COVID.  

Consider this: what an enhanced opportunity to exercise our hope-filled faith! On difficult days at work, we learn to trust Jesus more. After all, it’s in such desperate, difficult places that we await the joy of ultimate redemption.

The Grass isn’t Always Greener

Second, consider how much you might regret your resignation. Some studies suggest that our current “grass is greener” attitude toward work is destined to produce an even bigger boomerang effect in the next few years. In some situations, employees who decided to depart are likely to decide they want those same jobs back.

Valid questions to ask yourself include: “What might it look like and feel like if I try to return to this position?” And “If I leave now, only to try to come back later, what might I have missed in this place by way of personal development, including both professional and character growth?”

Here’s where it’s vital for Christian laborers and leaders to consider the vital importance of developing contentment and perseverance.

There Can be Purpose in the Pain

Third, consider how God uses our work—even the painful portions—to sculpt us. In Work: The Meaning of Your Life, Lester DeKoster says, “Work plays a large role in the sculpting of our selves.” Work is often a daily wounding experience. Brilliantly, DeKoster correlates such wounding to taking up our crosses daily and following Jesus in self-denial. He encourages us to realize “the Bible takes full account of the wounds inflicted by working …  in suffering these to give our selves to the service of others, we follow the way set before his followers by the Lord Jesus himself.” 

As we contemplate the Great Resignation, perhaps we should ask: What if all we’ve been going through—every difficulty in our daily endeavors—is actually God’s perfect way of growing us to think, love, craft, and serve more like Jesus?

The wise writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us “there is a time for everything,” and he concludes the famous poetic clip by asking, “What do workers gain from their toil?” (Ecc. 3:1-9). We can confidently say that there’s a time to quit and a time to keep going. There’s a time to start something brand new, and there’s a time when staying put is God’s recipe for refining our character. What if instead of resigning, this is actually your time to bear the cross, persevere, and keep growing?

We all get tired. So many resignations are born of utter exhaustion and frustration. No doubt about it. There’s a time to be vulnerable and let people know you’ve had all you can handle. You feel you must toss in the towel. We’re all human. Our bodies, minds, and hearts get weary. I get it. So does Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul describes resurrection, both Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection to come. His victorious explanation points us toward ultimate restoration. How fitting that his hope-filled remarks conclude like this: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).

You may feel it’s time to wrap it up. I get it, really. But before you join the Great Resignation, please realize, laborers and leaders, there’s probably someone counting on you right now to keep it together and stay. Someone likely needs you to endure and to finish strong. Your tenacity in your loving leadership may be precisely what they need in order to see more of Jesus and learn greater endurance for themselves.

Consider this: What if God wants you to stay so he can sculpt you more for the sake of others?  

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