Work Ethic and the “Great Resignation”

Some time ago I was chatting with a fellow preacher who told me about a mutual acquaintance who had resigned from the church where he was preaching and had taken a secular job.

When I expressed surprise, he responded, “Well, I guess he’s a part of the “Great Resignation.”

“Is that really a thing?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” my friend replied.

Since then I’ve learned that it’s a very real phenomenon describing record numbers of people quitting their jobs. And many leaving the workforce altogether.

The “Great Resignation,” a term coined by Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M, even has its own Wikipedia page that offers this explanation.

“Possible causes include wage stagnation amid rising cost of living, economic freedom provided by COVID-19 stimulus payments, long-lasting job dissatisfaction, and safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some economists have described the Great Resignation as akin to a general strike.”

From a Christian viewpoint, while it’s certainly within our right to change jobs or careers, the Bible offers Divine directives that ought to guide our attitude toward work.

#1 God wants us to work.

Former NFL player Derwin Gray who’s now a preacher in South Carolina stood before his congregation last Sunday and proclaimed, “work is a gift from God.” He further encouraged the young people in his audience to remember that success in life comes from work. Hard work. And not to try and short-cut the process.

God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and commanded them to work and care for the garden (Gen. 2:15). The book of Proverbs offers advice regarding work, including this insight, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied (Prov. 13:4). To the Thessalonians who had quit working and became idle busybodies, Paul commanded them “to work” (2 Thess 3:7-12). Furthermore, we’re commanded “to work” to provide for our families ( I Timothy 5:8).

In a day of entitlement, avoiding working and living off the labor of others, we need to return to an old-fashioned work ethic. William J. Bennett was right, “there are no menial jobs only menial attitudes.

#2 Whatever Your Job, Perform with excellence.

Paul commanded the bondservants to work “heartily, as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23). That means to “work from the soul.” It means with gusto or enthusiasm. Christians are not slackers. We do our best. We plan. Prepare. And take personal responsibility for our work.

#3 Be a Person of Integrity in Your work.

Paul commanded, “Do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Rom. 12:17). The ancient wise man wrote, “Honest scales and balances are from the Lord” (Prov. 16:11).

Business ethics should be Christian ethics. Keep your word. Be honest. Represent your product accurately. Do what is right.

#4 Your job is another way to serve the Lord.

The Bible speaks of the Christian worker as “fearing the Lord,” working “as to the Lord, and not to men, ” and “doing the will of God.” As a result, he says “from the Lord you will receive your reward.” (Col. 3:22-4:1; Eph. 6:5-9).

For Christians, work takes on a new meaning. You are not just serving an earthly employer, but a heavenly Master. Your work has a deeper purpose, greater potential, and higher motives. The way you work, the values you live by, and the attitudes you display honor God.

In his fine book, The God of the Towel, Jim McGuiggan, suggested we make an unscriptural distinction by calling some jobs “sacred” and other jobs “secular.” Then he explained it this way.

By secular we usually mean it has no religious content, it isn’t related to holiness or spirituality…the preacher’s job is ‘sacred’ and the taxi drivers is ‘secular.’ One handles sacred things and the other just drives a hack. A lady is a bank clerk eight hours a day and a Sunday school teacher during the assembly periods. The first is thought to be ‘secular’ and the Sunday school work is ‘sacred.’ This isn’t biblical at all!”

There is a sense, as McQuiggen wrote that “All service is sacred service,” because we’re working for the Lord. Not man.

Let’s all honor God in our work. From the teacher to the janitor. From bank president to the teller. From the CEO to factory worker. Remember your work has value. Dignity. Worth. And that work glorifies God.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

5 Comments

Filed under Work

5 responses to “Work Ethic and the “Great Resignation”

  1. Peggy T Hobbs

    Ken, this is a great blog today. I think Professor Anthony Klotz had a great explanation of why people are leaving the work force today and it’s so sad. Our work should be with enthusiasm and the best of our ability. It does have value and glorifies God.

    Like

    • Thanks Peggy. You are so very right

      Like

    • Lillian S

      The problem is that the value of glorifying God will not pay rent and feed your family. For this you need cold hard cash that employers like to withhold.
      Did you you know the scale of wage theft in the USA?
      Between 2017 and 2020, more than $3 billion in stolen wages was recovered on behalf of workers by the U.S. Department of Labor, state departments of labor and attorneys general, and through class and collective action litigation. And this is just a small portion of money stolen from workers.

      Like

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  3. G Mansard

    I cannot entirely agree here. The common worker has been getting the short end of the stick for some time, and it has steadily worsened. A common view is “these people just don’t want to work,” is a shortsighted view.

    Why should people be motivated to do work well? Real wages have been declining for years, alongside shrinking benefits. Except except for small family businesses there is precious little loyalty employers give their workers. Many employers . . . especially the large national companies . . . will not hesitate to throw workers under the bus if it is to their profit. Why should we expect workers to give them more consideration than they get themselves?

    The pandemic and the increase working at home has shown people that alternatives are possible. Why sacrifice 2-3 hours a day communing to work, being stuck in an office cubicle for another 8-9 hours enmired in office politics, when you can complete the same amount of work at home with greater greater flexibility, increasing family time, getting more rest and overall improving quality of life?

    Why are so many people committed to this idea that “work is supposed to be hard, you’re not supposed to like it, it’s good for you and you should be grateful for it?”

    Like

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