Quitting Your Job, Salary and Finance, Work Ethic, Workplace Issues

Quitting Responsibly

As with renegotiating a contract, quitting a job is something to be done with planning and reflection. Here are a few things to consider before handing in your resignation:

1. Do I really have a reason to quit? Knee-jerk reactions aren’t that uncommon, especially in the heat of the moment. Take some time to cool off. Then consider the situation carefully:

a. Is the problem acute or chronic (ongoing)? If it’s momentary, it may be best to let the conflict go. If it’s ongoing, spend some time digging for the root of the problem. It may be an issue which can be easily resolved once it has been uncovered.

b. Is the difficulty with an individual or the company? Some issues are inherent in an organization. Others are inherent in the people who run that organization. It’s rarely a good idea to quit a job just because you aren’t getting along well with a single co-worker. (In fact, you’re likely to encounter similar conflicts at your next workplace.)

c. Is there another less dramatic action I can take? Quitting can be stressful and traumatic – a bit like amputating a limb. That stress escalates in proportion to the level of responsibility an individual holds, i.e., whether your family is depending upon your support. Leaving a job post ought to be a final resort, not an initial one – at least when conflict is the cause of your departure.

2. Am I prepared to leave? This is an important consideration, since more than once, I’ve watched someone walk off a job-site and into a barren job market. You may want out and you may want out now, but that doesn’t mean that simply walking away is a good idea. If you’re going to depart, take the time to ensure that you have something else lined up: another job, further education, or any sort of rationally considered game-plan. Don’t cut off your nose just to spite your face!

3. Am I leaving in a way that glorifies God? While you may be angry and frustrated, simply walking off without giving notice or sabotaging/slacking in your final days will not bring notice to your Savior in a positive way. Make sure your employer knows that you are going… then complete your service with all of the passion and dedication that you would give it if you were serving God, Himself.

All that said, sometimes we really want and need to leave a job, but simply can’t. A bad job market, lack of skill, or any number of other obstacles can get in our way. Next week, we’ll take a look at how to develop a game plan that will help us endure until the situation comes to an end.

Work Ethic, Workplace Issues

Work Ethic: Big Picture Thinking

In Luke 11:24-26, Jesus tells the following parable: “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ “And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. “Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” While workplace irritations aren’t “unclean spirits,” the analogy still holds – if you want your frustrations to quit multiplying, you need to make a concentrated and deliberate effort to replace them as the focus of your thoughts.

So exactly how do you do this? According to Lamentations 3:22-23, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” The truth is, no matter how difficult our coworkers, how obnoxious our customers, or how infuriating our boss, there is still something to be thankful for (even if it is just the reality that when all is said and done, we get to go home). As followers of Christ, it becomes our mission to find that something and then consciously praise God for it!

Of course, this isn’t always easy… especially if we’ve already developed a habit of seeing the negative. In cases like these, there are a few things that can be done to help alter our perspective:

1. Pray. Begin by letting God know you’re sorry for focusing on the negative. Then, let Him know that you need His help to find the positive.

2. Make a list. Set aside time each day to list at least ten positive things that happened at work. (This may require more effort on some days than others, but that effort helps us learn to see the little blessings as well as the big ones.)

3. Stop the process. Each time you find yourself dwelling on the negative, take a moment to find two positive things to thank God for.

4. Find a partner. Recruit someone with whom you can share your positive workplace experiences and will hold you accountable to look for the good.

5. Don’t give up. For some of us, seeing the good when we’re surrounded by muck just isn’t our gift. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try!

Think of finding the positive things in the workplace as a treasure hunt: not all of the prizes will be obvious at first glance and we’re not going to find the best ones if we only focus in on that little weedy bed on the sidelines! Get up, move around, and start looking! Pretty soon you’ll be thanking God for the pennies you find in the parking lot, the new heater installed in the break room, not having to clean the bathroom, or the temperature being half a degree warmer today than it was yesterday! And what about all of those workplace mountains? Well, they were just molehills anyway.


Work Ethic, Workplace Issues

Work Ethic: Cultivating Perspective through Community

Hebrews 4:15 tells us that, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.” That means that there isn’t anything happening to us at our jobs that Christ didn’t experience, Himself. Consider this: Jesus went through His adult life without a home, exposed to heat and to cold, abandoned by His friends, falsely accused by His enemies, and left to clean up a mess He didn’t make in the first place! (And you thought it was a pain having to mop up in the produce department!) The only One who was ever truly alone in any experience was Christ when He bore our sins on the cross.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” All of us have had difficulty seeing the “big picture” at some point in our lives and, in many ways, that’s what makes Christian fellowship so important – yes, I do mean church. When we take the time to associate with other Believers, we gain the added perspective of those who live outside of our own situation as well as the faithful support of those who have been there before.

According to the Apostle Paul, “…there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:20-26) When you make church and/or Sunday School and/or Youth Group a priority you’ll be tapping one of the most potent aids for “big picture thinking” with which God has provided us. Sometimes just knowing that you have the love and support of others is enough to give you the perspective that you’re lacking.

The ultimate in “big picture thinking,” however, requires us not only to let go of our struggles, but also to make a conscious effort to recognize our blessings. This goes beyond taking time to develop relationships with those who share your experience and can help guide and encourage you as you navigate the rough spots. We’ll take a look at this type of thinking next week, but for now, feel free to share about some ways that Christian fellowship has impacted your own perspective on trials in the workplace!

Work Ethic, Workplace Issues

Work Ethic: Character and Perspective Part II

In 1 Peter 5:6-10, the Apostle admonishes his hearers to, “…humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” Titus 2:12b,13 confirms this concept, commanding that, “We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Our momentary trials are nothing when we look at God’s Big Picture.

As difficult as it seems at times, we know that everything that comes into our lives does so for a purpose. And nothing which touches our lives does so without God’s permission. In Genesis 31:7, Jacob confessed to Rachel that, “…your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times; however, God did not allow him to hurt me.” While God’s idea of what doesn’t cause permanent harm doesn’t always match our own, God does promise that He will never allow us to encounter anything that He isn’t going to pull us through… and that includes serving under a difficult boss.

Instead of focusing on how frustrating the situation is, we’re better off asking God to explain the lesson that He’s trying to teach us or the character trait that He’s trying to develop in us. After all, character is like muscle: it can only be built under stress!

Romans 5:3-5a tells us that, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us…” We have the same assurance as Job that, “…he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10 NIV) The truth is, no matter how mean, erratic, or volatile your boss may be, you won’t always be in his grip. Jacob (the hero of our story) realized this and we need to as well.

There’s more to a cheerful attitude, however, than just keeping our focus on the “big picture.” Face it, sometimes, no matter how hard we try, that universal view simply eludes us. In times like this, when all we can see is how absolutely miserable we are, we need to realize that we aren’t alone.

We’ll take a look at some ways to remind ourselves of this next week. Meanwhile, feel free to share some ways in which a Godly perspective on trials has positively influenced your workplace experience in the comment box below!


Work Ethic, Workplace Issues

Work Ethic: Character and Perspective Part I

“Work Ethic”. You’ve probably heard the term before. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation… the principles of conduct governing an individual.” In other words, you may say, “A day’s work for a day’s pay,” but if you slack off every time the boss isn’t watching it will quickly become clear that this isn’t your ethic.

A good work ethic is more than words; it’s a character trait. Who you are when no one is looking matters. Setting the dictionary aside, you might define a good work ethic as, “Knowing what is right and doing it, even when you don’t feel like it.” Since you’re probably used to doing this with at least a few things in your every-day life (like taking out the trash, finishing an assignment for school or work, or paying your utility bill), it shouldn’t be hard to transfer the principle over to your paying job. At least, theoretically.

You see, a good work ethic isn’t just about our action, but about our attitudes. The question isn’t just, “Do you take out the trash each week,” but “Do you take out the trash without grumbling and complaining.” Most of us will recall that in Colossians 3:23 we are told to, “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” This command is easy to remember and act upon when your work environment is a pleasant one, but much less so when the task or the person(s) for whom you are performing it are not.

While our attitudes govern our actions, it is our perspective which governs our attitudes. The result is that forming a proper perspective is the ultimate key to a good work ethic. The Apostle Paul recognized this, declaring in Philippians 4:12,13 that, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” He understood that contentment in his line of work was not the result of an individual situation, but of how he viewed that situation. And this godly perspective gave him the ability to perform at his best even in the worst of circumstances.

We see this particular perspective prominently displayed in the story of Jacob. According to Genesis 29:20, “Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” While Laban’s goal was to use Jacob for his own personal gain, Jacob was able to see past this own frustration by focusing on his own long-term goal and not on his immediate situation.

You might call this “big-picture thinking.” It’s what happens when you recognize important factors like that work is only a small portion of your life and that it doesn’t have to influence you any further than the revolving doors leading into the parking lot. Like LasVegas, whatever happens here stays here… if you let it. And that requires a conscious, committed decision. (To be continued…)

Work Ethic, Workplace Issues

Work Ethic: An Introduction

One of my favorite summer activities was always the neighborhood water fight. During the hottest days of August, my friends and I would turn the entire street into a war zone. Like two armies, we’d advance against each other, sheltering between cars or trees, all in an attempt to make certain that the other side ended up wetter than we were. All of this was fun until, almost inevitably, some track star would show up with a super squirt gun that could unload fifteen gallons of water in four seconds from a distance of half a mile. You couldn’t get near him without getting rain in your face. And trying to out-strategize the quickly moving target with water in your eyes was nearly impossible. The result was the complete demoralization of just about everyone who encountered this “Moron of Mayhem.”

It didn’t take me long to discover that these sort of people continue to exist long after High School and that, thanks to their “leadership ability,” many of them find their way into positions of workplace authority. They still delight in presenting people with a moving target, constantly changing job requirements and operation standards, often without any warning. The biggest difference here, however, is that instead of a squirt gun, they have authority over paychecks, work schedules, days off, and generally anything and everything you do for the 4-8 hours that you’re in their domain.

Sadly, escaping the clutches or such people is often easier said than done. The labor market doesn’t always work in our favor and it isn’t uncommon to find oneself unable to find another job with a less controlling or irrational boss. If this is your situation, take heart. Many others have been there before.

Perhaps one of the earliest examples of this particular type of employer/employee relationship can be found in Genesis 29-31. After stealing Esau’s blessing, Jacob ran off to stay with his mother’s relatives while things cooled down back at home. No sooner had he arrived in Rebecca’s homeland than his attention was captured by the most stunningly beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her name was Rachel and she just happened to be his uncle’s daughter. After some negotiation, Jacob agreed to tend Laban’s flocks for him if he would only give her to him as his wife and, for the next seven years, Jacob busted his tail making his uncle rich. When the time was up, the wedding went through only for Jacob to discover the next morning that it was Rachel’s sister Leah who was lying in bed with him! Clearly, he had been cheated.

Not wanting to cause too much strife within the clan, Laban agreed that if Jacob would work another seven years, he would give him Rachel for his wife, as well. Reluctantly, Jacob agreed, but it quickly became clear that the “bride swap” was not the end of his uncle’s conniving schemes. During the years that followed, his uncle tried to cheat him again and again, attempting to diminish his wages no less than ten times! To say that the situation was infuriating is an understatement. It was unbearable!

So how did he make it through his commitment without his brain frying? The answer is: a positive work ethic. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at what it means to have a good work ethic… and why it matters when we find ourselves in less than favorable employment situations. Meanwhile, feel free to share your thoughts on the subject in the comment box below!