If I told you that sixty-three percent of workers in America were open to leaving their jobs, would that number seem low, high, or just about right? My first reaction was that the number seemed high, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to consider that the reality might actually be a bit worse for the nation’s employers. The days of the majority retiring from the same company with which they started have been gone for long enough that most of us simply acknowledge the new normal and go on with our lives.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. After all, isn’t a crucial part of the American dream the belief that you can become whatever you want if you’re willing to work hard enough at it? Often times, a key part of that process is taking your talents elsewhere.
Still, loyalty, for both the employer and the employee, seems to be in relatively short supply these days. But, is it really as simple as everyone just looking out for their own interests, or could the problem run deeper?
The same study referenced above found a rather sizeable disconnect between employers and their workers regarding a willingness to move on. You see, the reality is that only seventeen percent of workers are actively seeking a new job while the other forty-six percent were simply open to the possibility under the right set of circumstances. Employers, however, expected the number of those in the former group to be higher than it was while drastically underestimating the latter. That seems to point to an important breakdown in communication between those in charge and the people who work for them.
The greatest area of disconnect perhaps comes from the fact that most of the latter group are looking less for a raise than better work-life balance and opportunities for advancement. Most people simply want a better life, and that’s not always related to the number on one’s paycheck. As a result, many employers appear to be missing out on opportunities to create better stability without necessarily having to offer more money. In a job market finally nearing full employment, it’s all the more important for companies to make their workers feel at home. That won’t happen unless they have a better grasp on what those workers value most, though.
As Christians, we need to make sure that we don’t make the same mistake if we want to help the lost around us find Christ. We should never presume that we understand what’s keeping someone from accepting the gospel or that we know what they need most without actually engaging in a conversation with them. Throughout Scripture, we see Jesus taking time to get to know people before he shares his message with them (John 4), and he already knew what was going on in their hearts and minds (Matthew 12:25, John 4:17–18). It would seem that there’s something fundamentally important to real and open communication with people beyond just getting to the end of the conversation as quickly as possible.
How many of us take that approach to sharing the gospel with others, though? How many of us actually listen to what the other person is saying rather than trying to pick up on a few key tidbits here and there that fit the direction in which we want to take the conversation? I know I’ve been guilty of that on multiple occasions and, looking back, it’s certainly made it harder to start or grow any sort of real relationship when I have.
God has given us the enormous responsibility and privilege of sharing his message of salvation with a world that desperately needs to hear it. If we are to be good stewards of that calling, however, then we must start seeing the lost as people worth our time and attention rather than a mission field to conquer. Engaging in real conversations that are as much or more about who others are as people than what we may hope to accomplish through our dialogue is an important first step.
Ken Medema once wrote, “Don’t tell them they have a friend in Jesus until you show them they have a friend in you.” Whom will you take the time to befriend today?