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.
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?