Why “quiet quitting” is trending and how it may affect your church

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Why “quiet quitting” is trending and how it may affect your church

August 26, 2022 - Ryan Denison, PhD

© Elnur /stock.adobe.com

© Elnur /stock.adobe.com

What does it mean to be a good employee?

There are many ways to answer that question and, increasingly, how you respond may have as much to do with your age as your background and upbringing.

As working conditions increasingly shift toward enabling remote access to the office and the possibility of 24/7 communication with bosses and coworkers, creating boundaries between work and life has become more difficult. At the very least, it often requires a greater degree of intentionality on the part of the employee than it did a generation ago.

That keeping healthy boundaries between work and life often falls to the employee has, in turn, led to a controversial trend often dubbed “quiet quitting.”

What is “quiet quitting”?

How one defines quiet quitting likely says more about their stance on the issue than the term itself, but the basic idea revolves around workers creating firm boundaries around their job requirements and not exceeding them unless paid to do so.

For proponents of the trend, that looks like working hard during office hours, meeting expectations, and getting your job done well—but without going above and beyond what you are explicitly paid to do. Conversely, its detractors see what often amounts to an excuse for laziness and not being a team player.

There is some truth to both views.

Some companies thrive on overworking their employees while relying on unrealistic expectations and having access to their workers around the clock to meet their goals. And some employees make everyone else’s lives more difficult because their interpretation of “what they’re paid to do” falls short of reality, and they use ideas like quiet quitting to justify a substandard job performance.

Ideally, employers would establish clear expectations and pay their employees a wage that’s sufficient to motivate their employees to work hard and live up to those expectations. However, we do not live in an ideal world.

So what can companies and employees do to establish a healthier balance when it comes to work/life boundaries? And what can we learn from this discussion to become better Christians and workers for the kingdom?

Setting work/life boundaries

Jay McDonald, an Atlanta-based executive coach and former CEO of several small companies, offers one suggestion, and it’s worthy of our consideration today.

While several factors contribute to quiet quitting, McDonald puts a lot of the onus on company leaders “to have good metrics and measurements for knowing whether somebody’s getting the job done or not.” Essentially, it’s on the company to be able to tell the difference between people setting good boundaries and people not working hard.

Establishing clear goals and expectations is crucial because it makes sure neither the individual employee nor the business approaches their relationship under false pretenses. A lot of the controversy surrounding quiet quitting seems to stem from environments where that is not the case.

Many workers feel the need to create their own boundaries because companies either never created them or won’t adhere to them. At the same time, many workers try to create their own boundaries because, after accepting a job, they’ve decided they are no longer willing to work under the guidelines they initially agreed to—but they don’t want to quit outright. Neither outcome will foster a healthy work environment, nor will it yield the kinds of results in both parties’ best interests.

That same principle is especially important to remember when it comes to the work we do for God’s kingdom.

Quiet quitting the church

Many churches, for example, rely far too much on the contributions of far too few. At your own church, chances are that you can think of the people who always seem to volunteer for everything. Maybe that’s you.

Dedication to serving the Lord through serving the local church is not a bad thing, but when people agree to help in one area only to find out later that doing so represents a far bigger commitment in time and effort than they originally thought, it can create strife and stress while fostering the kind of resentment that can divide a church.

And the same is true for churches that expect their staff to work massive hours and be on call whenever a need arises. It’s a big part of why nearly 40 percent of US pastors have considered leaving full-time ministry in recent years. The problem is even larger for those church leaders who serve in a bivocational role.

For God to accomplish his best through the church, he needs people willing to commit their best to following his will. That can’t happen, though, if they’re constantly beat down, exhausted, and feeling as if they’re being taken advantage of by the very people they’re meant to serve alongside.

Our heavenly Father loves every person too much to bless work that relies upon mistreating others. So whatever you may think about quiet quitting, let’s endeavor to make sure we do our part to foster an environment, especially in our churches, in which people feel valued rather than used.

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