The last two years of the COVID pandemic have given expression to some unfamiliar vocabulary. We have quickly learnt the meaning of terms such as ‘flattening the curve’, ‘social distancing’, ‘mandatory isolation’ and many others. From no understanding of these pandemic phrases to their becoming painfully common in society, we have adapted and learnt quickly.
However, they’re not the only new terms that have emerged in our world in the last few years. I want to discuss two new expressions that have emerged and what they mean for us today. As the sons of Issachar knew well (1 Chronicles 12:32), it’s good to know the signs of the times we live in.
Here are two new terms, their meanings, and how they can creep into the church:
1. ‘QUIET QUITTING’
'Quiet quitting,' is where you are not outright quitting your job but you're quitting the idea of going above and beyond. In a nutshell, "quiet quitting" is about rejecting the notion that work has to take over one's life and that employees should go above and beyond what their job descriptions entail.
To be honest, it sounds like a noble cause to create boundaries and foster a healthier work-life balance which, of course, is positive. Work-life balance has had a complete overhaul during the last few years and has swung back towards a more sustainable environment for people. This is a great adjustment to the pace of life for a society that has been overextended. However, the subtle erosion that it brings when people quit caring has a negative effect on motivation, focus and passion in the workplace.
The term and the effects of it leave me thinking about the ‘quiet quitting’ that has taken place at times in the church around the world. It’s left many Christians present on the roll call but lacking motivation, focus and passion to be mobilised for kingdom purpose. Quiet quitting your employment affects your career but quiet quitting your faith commitment affects your calling. In the last few years, the global church has experienced Christians leaving the building altogether as restrictions were imposed, but a more concerning slide has been Christians who have quietly quit their sense of calling and God-given purpose. When a Christian quietly quits their faith commitment it affects the body of believers, our witness to unbelievers, and most significantly, the inner spiritual health of the person themselves.
Healthy balance in life is important but quietly quitting your faith, spiritual calling, or your belonging in a local church doesn’t create balance, it creates chaos. Philippians 1:6 reminds us of the continued work God desires to do in and through us - “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.
I’m thankful for a local church community that is filled with people who haven’t let go of their love for God and people but have stayed strong and united and have not quietly quit when that would have been an easier choice. This warning from scripture in Matthew 24:12 rings true today and is one we need to be aware of personally and for our brothers and sisters in Christ, that in the last days ‘the love of many will grow cold’. I pray we will together do all we can to bring the warmth of relationship and life back into every believer we know who has cooled in their love for God and people.
If you search your heart and sense, there are aspects of your faith that you have quietly quit can I suggest you turn your attention to a real recommit of the entirety of your life to Christ. Give him Lordship again of every part of your being. Somehow in the western church we have sometimes made Jesus a mere part of our live instead of the central priority of our existence. A recommitting of relationship to Jesus, to the journey of being His disciple, to submission to his will in our lives and to the calling to take up our cross and follow him will bring us back into alignment with our created purpose. The spiritual answer to our quiet quitting is instead a real recommitting to Jesus.
2. ‘THE GREAT RESIGNATION’
The ‘Great Resignation’, also known as the ‘Big Quit’ and the ‘Great Reshuffle’, is an ongoing economic trend in which employees have voluntarily resigned from their jobs en masse, beginning in early 2021. Possible causes include wage stagnation amid rising cost of living, long-lasting job dissatisfaction, safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the desire to work for companies with better remote-working policies. Some economists have described the Great Resignation as akin to a general strike.
This popular new term puts vocabulary around a phenomenon in society of people re-evaluating their employment and refocusing on new career opportunities that reflect their shifting values. It’s a great thing to reflect upon our happiness in our career and make the adjustments needed to move us closer to progression and greater job satisfaction. However, this should be balanced with an understanding of the rewards of commitment and longevity which stable employment brings to both our work progression and peace of mind. The right change is good but change just for change’s sake is not always a wise decision.
The ‘great resignation’ in the workplace is real but equally as real is the great spiritual resignation. We have seen believers all over the world deconstructing Jesus out of their lives, others quitting the church, and believers pausing their commitment to serve in and outside of the church. When a workplace resignation is received, naturally a hole is created that needs to be filled as quickly as possible to alleviate the pressure on the other workers. This same type of impact is felt when the great resignation hits the church. Jesus said, “the harvest is great, but the workers are few”.
I’ve heard many church leaders mention that people are returning to church services again but that they have had a lack of volunteers returning to teams. It’s natural that people have reassessed their commitments during this time and made some changes. Serving on the same team in the same area is not permanent but as a believer, serving God is a lifestyle. The church is not an organisation, it’s an organism with living parts. We are not strangers who gather; we are a family. We are not a corporate structure; we are the body of Christ which is called to be mobilised to reach the world for Christ. Therefore, although our position in which to serve may change, the part we play in serving is still important and necessary for the body of Christ to fully function effectively.
I’m thankful for a church full of people who have remained on mission to serve God in this season. This season has provided an important reminder that there will always be temptations to live for ourselves rather than for God. It’s much easier to focus on ‘me’ and my comfort than the radical calling of Jesus to serve God and people which is the Christian way of living. Let’s never re-evaluate serving God out of our lives even when seasons change. Our highest calling will always remain, to know and serve Christ.
One of the less reported results of the great resignation is the great regret. There are many who have regretted an emotional decision to make a change to walk away from a career they had invested so much in. On a deeper level spiritually, I believe there are many that have regretted their hearts resignation to being a fully committed disciple of Jesus. A gap has formed between what they know to be true and the life they are living now. The internal resignation has created a divide that can only be dealt with by the great repentance. Now is the time to repent and return to the life in Christ we were created for. The church is resilient and will continue to advance, but the heart of God is that you and I would be a present, active member of His church. Let’s not resign as a disciple of Jesus but rather decide to follow Jesus with no turning back. As we leave any resignation behind, we are reignited with love for Jesus and His cause on the earth.
SUMMING IT ALL UP
Quite quitting and the great resignation are a mindset before they are an action. When these things happen in our spiritual world internally, we start to deviate from our God-given purpose. Yes, there are seasons of rest, change, rejuvenation, and re-evaluation but spiritual quiet quitting and spiritual resignation are not part of the life of a disciple of Jesus.
Unlike a job that we may change to enhance benefits such as remuneration, working conditions, working from home options and greater pathways for progression, the Christian faith is not built on a mindset of consumer benefits but rather committed discipleship. Let’s not be a people who quietly quit our calling or resign from our commitment to serve Christ. We all have a part to play in God’s plan.
I encourage you today to resist any spiritual temptation to quietly quit by making a real recommitment to God and to address any spiritual resignation with the great repentance of heart that puts you back on course with God’s purpose for your life
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.