Saturday, February 16, 2008

How a Christian Loses His Job
















Whether you've been fired, retrenched or euphemistically, "let go", losing your job can be a difficult trial to walk through. Given that an average person will have 10 to 12 jobs in a lifetime of work, losing your job at least once during that span of time, is actually a likely scenario. The question isn't whether it'll happen to you, but rather how you plan to deal with it when it does happen.

Can a Christian lose his job, yet keep his integrity in the process? How do you get fired and glorify God?

Perhaps, we can take a cue from renown Puritan preacher, Jonathan Edwards. That's right, Jonathan Edwards, one of the leading theologians in church history was once fired from his job. I was recently reading through A God Entranced View of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, when I came upon this astonishing fact. Jonathan Edwards was voted out of his church - in essence, fired by his congregation, in a landslide vote of 230 to 23. The reason for his dismissal principally centered around his opposition to admitting non-Christians to the Lord's Supper. Jonathan Edwards stood for biblical principles and surprisingly, lost his job for it.

Perhaps more surprising is how Edwards responds to this wrong treatment. Even though wrongly dismissed, there appeared no trace of bitterness. His farewell sermon on 2 Corinthians 1:14 - "as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus." - sweetly testified of his gracious disposition toward his congregation.

Edwards also continued to serve his former church, agreeing to preach every Sunday until they found his replacement...which he did for 15 months.

I realize that a pastor's call is special in some ways but how many of us would remain to serve our employer after we've been wrongfully dismissed? I've never been fired or wrongly dismissed, but I'm not sure I would have responded with such generosity or grace.

I also recognize that there's a big difference between getting fired for lack of performance and losing your job because you're standing firm on a biblical principle. But the point here isn't to dwell on the different reasons people lose their jobs. Rather, we want to consider how a godly man responds when it does happen...even when he's been wronged.

Here are other points to consider if you do lose your job -

1. Like Edwards, resist temptation to become bitter - at the company for "not appreciating your contribution", at co-workers for "playing office politics", at the person responsible for "making you look bad". We know how 90% of the world would like to respond, here's your chance to respond differently because of the new life birthed in your heart.

2. Be accountable - in some cases where a lack of performance is identified as a reason for dismissal, be open to recognize how your sin or deficiencies may have contributed to that outcome.

3. Set your heart on the gospel - our comfort comes from the knowledge that because of Jesus' loving sacrifice for us, God remains committed to bless us.

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:31-32)

4. You may not know where your next paycheck is coming from, but resist the temptation for self-pity. Instead, look ahead joyfully, treasuring Christ. Here's how David looked at his life in the midst of nay sayers.

"There are many who say, "Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

(Psalm 4:6-7)



Regardless of how you lost your job, how did the experience affect you? What did you learn through the process? Even if you've never lost your job, what advice would you offer?

13 comments:

Vince Hinders said...

Andre,

I sent a comment earlier today but I must have messed up on sending it. I'll try again...

I think your post is excellent on how a Christian should think and act when confronted with losing his job. My one additional thought would be to consider the words you speak during a difficult season like you mentioned. Eph. 4:29 tells us to let "no corrupting talk" come out of our mouths. I believe this includes gossip and slander, especially directed toward those in authority over you.

Thanks for keeping the gospel central in your blog.

VH

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

wow - I popped over to see if I'd left a comment or not when I read this post - and what a new look. I almost didn't think I was on the right blog!

Your post is excellent - I completely agree with Vince! I also agree with him on Eph 4:29 - one I've been forgetting lately as I grumble about my new chairperson! It is good to be reminded!

Thanks for your continued posts along this line of excellence in the work place as a way of honoring God - the posts have helped pull me out of a "stuck" spot at work - at least I hope so!

Now if you could just post on a great way to get and stay organized - or how to get papers to file themselves, I'd have it made!!

Every Square Inch said...

Vince

Hey, you're in the blogging world.

Thanks for taking time to comment. You're right about needing to guard the words we speak. It is so easy to gossip and slander those in authority when things don't go our way.

Susan

I'm glad that you've benefited from the posts on this blog...unfortunately, I have no helpful thoughts on how to get organized. If it's a comfort, I heard someone say to me once -

"If it's true that a cluttered desk points to a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk indicate?"

L.L. Barkat said...

Losing a job, even under the best of circumstances, is always painful. It is, after all, the thing we've been accustomed to putting ourselves towards day after day.

My spouse used to be a career counselor and his advice was that a person who has lost a job should do any job while waiting to find a new one, even if it's not a job of choice. Otherwise, depression can quickly and easily set in. This, of course, adversely affects one's ability to interview well for a new job!

George said...

I've been fired four -- count 'em -- four times. Twice as a part of a down-sizing by money-losing organizations, once when my boss lost out in a political struggle, and once for performance.

When it's performance-based, the reason may either be objective (like not making enough sales, as in my case) or subjective (like not fitting in well enough). And either it's justified -- I really wasn't selling enough when others were -- or it's not -- maybe others were selling less but kept their jobs.

Regardless of the reasons or excuses for our terminations, the natural reactions are fear inspired by lack of income and resentment at being rejected. These become opportunities to practice your obedience.

A key difference between Old Testament expectations and New Testament expectations is a sense of justice. In the Old Testament, people expected justice. In the New, we look at Christ and His followers and learn to expect injustice, and furthermore we are taught to accept it without resentment.

Another opportunity is to trust God for what we need to live. Now, no one in the US starves to death. The real worry is that we won't live as well as we've become accustomed to. So the greater challenge -- for me, anyway -- is accepting that what becomes available is enough to meet my needs as God sees them. It means taking more satisfaction in what happens than in what I expect is my entitlement.

Years ago my pastor gave a sermon on employment issues. I thought -- what does he know? He's always been a pastor. Midway thru the sermon he brought up a woman who spoke about her experience. She'd been poorly supervised and quit when she got fully fed up. But then she realized: That's not what Christ taught me to do. So she returned, apologized to her boss for making his life more difficult, and promised to stay until they could find a replacement, explaining that she was doing this in keeping with the character of Christ.

The last time I did this it was to the ex-president who had wrecked the company and left, leaving the company to liquidate over the next few years. When I invited him to meet, he may have expected me to critique him, but I'm certain he did not expect an apology from me. But the reality is that no matter how good we've been as employees -- or bosses for that matter -- we've not been perfect as Christ expects us to be perfect, and the godly thing to do is to acknowledge that publicly.

Every Square Inch said...

LL

That's good advice to be immediately productive. Losing a job can be traumatic to those who link their self worth to their jobs.

Every Square Inch said...

George

Thanks for sharing. Given your experience, you bring a unique perspective but I appreciate how you pursue a Godward focus.

Thanks for your wonderful example of humility to approach your former boss, recognizing your own imperfections and seeking his forgiveness.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

glad you're finding the conversation at "my place" interesting - do please feel free to join in anytime!

I must admit that I find it challenging to answer the questions/comments!

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

something I just noticed as I was trying to move from site to site - if the "Jesus Community" link you have on the blog is for Ted, you have the wrong link - it doesn't go to his blog.

Every Square Inch said...

Susan

Thanks for the tip about Ted Gossard's blog...it's fixed now.

Marlo Boux said...

I enjoyed this post and reading the comments and responses...I also like Vince's addition of no corrupt talking - wooh this can be a hard one. I have to be careful to guard my mouth. It seems that the very area God has given me a gifting can also get me into the most trouble.

Every Square Inch said...

Marlo

Thanks for visiting and taking time to comment. With regard to the tongue, it's no surprise that James says that "no human can tame the tongue" and also describes it as a "restless evil"

The power of speech can be used for so much good but also much harm.

Anonymous said...

I recenl lost my job 3months ago due to the facility closing, I had just been promoted with a financial increase. unfortunately my husband comehas not stepped up to the plate to make sure me and the childre needs are met. Money has always been our number one argument, I now see how perverted our roles had become with me making sure we had what we needed even though he make way more money than I do. now that we are in this situation he still has not taken the responsibility to provide for me and the children how very sad.