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The Great Resignation

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).

People quitting their jobs reached a new high in November 2021 with over 4.5 million Americans leaving the workforce.

The term Great Resignation was coined by a professor at Texas A&M when he used the phrase in May 2021 while describing a continued mass exodus from the workplace from 2020 onward.

Several years past, I read a book entitled The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. The book’s title indicates his conclusion – that we don’t work harder and better to find happiness, but happiness allows us to work harder and better.

Happiness comes before successful hard work.

Achor wrote the following about a study conducted in 2010:

Only 45 percent of workers surveyed were happy at their jobs, the lowest in 22 years of polling. Depression rates today are ten times higher than they were in 1960. Every year the age threshold of unhappiness sinks lower. Fifty years ago, the mean onset age of depression was 29.5 years old. Today, it is almost exactly half that: 14.5 years old.

Yes, that research was done in 2010.  

What do you think the happiness statistics would be in 2022 after two years of a COVID crisis? I believe this gives us an underlying cause of the Great Resignation.

COVID did not cause workers to quit – unhappiness did!

I was raised in the mid-west by depression-era parents, who both served in the military during World War II, and they didn’t get married to begin a family until their mid-30s.

They worked. Worked hard. Never complained. And worked harder and harder.

Raised by my parents, who were also followers of Jesus, I was taught to work hard and work even harder in my relationship with Jesus. My parents provided the basics that I needed to live. However, bicycles, motorcycles, tuition for summer camp, and my first car – well, I worked. 

My Christianity was work too. I memorized the books of the Bible, won Bible verse memory contests, was baptized at age 13, and knew how to argue the correct doctrine by age 11. Good things and I still benefit from memorizing scripture as a youth – but my effort was more from works than grace.

Then the world turned upside down in the latter 1960s.

Mid-western, and in fact most of the youth in America, rebelled. We dropped out of college, turned into hippies, left jobs, and listened to Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild as our theme song.  

We also stopped attending church.

Our parents were aghast.

Fast forward 50 years to 2020. Now people are again leaving jobs and churches. Social influencers, media commentators, pastors, and politicians are aghast.  

The Apostle Paul said, “Work heartily…” in Colossians 3:23.

The Greek word that Paul uses for heartily is psyche (from which we get psychology). In the contest of Colossians 3:23, the word means “work with your whole heart, according to your identity, or what inspires you.”

Back to happiness.

Those of us who love what we do, do not stop working. We grow, we become more fruitful – we work, work, and work – not from the expectations of others but because we are happy to…

… work, work, and work heartily unto the Lord!