ARTICLE

The Search For Meaning - 'The Big Quit' Is About More Than Employment Shifts

News Image By John Stonestreet/Breakpoint.org October 29, 2021
Share this article:

"The Big Quit." is not just a shift in the employment of millions, it's an expression of our culture-wide search for purpose. 

According to The Washington Post, "a record 4.3 million people -- about 2.9 percent of the nation's workforce -- quit their jobs in August." And, Gallup polling suggests that nearly half of working Americans are actively considering finding a new job. 

What's driving this trend away from work? It seems to be a perfect storm with many factors. Clearly, the pandemic has reshuffled priorities across society. Back in April, Forbes magazine's Keir Weimer suggested, "How we work has changed forever." A bit of hyperbole perhaps, but he's touching on something obvious and important.


More than half of respondents from one survey said they would trade higher compensation for workplace flexibility. Having worked from home throughout the last year, they are hesitant to give up the time with friends and family, the luxury of not commuting, and a more home-centered vocational life. 

At the same time, working in certain industries is more difficult. For example, in the food industry, there are a "staggering 1.2 million jobs unfilled... right when customers are crashing through the doors, ready to eat, drink, and finally socialize." 

Many point to the increased hours required, the unemployment benefits which exceed even increased compensation, and the stress of maintaining COVID-related policies in the workplace. And as more employees leave this industry, remaining workers with their hands even more full.

Even so, the biggest reason for workers leaving work could be because they can. Between government stimulus, rising home values, and money saved during COVID, many Americans are simply, to borrow words from David Leonhart of the New York Times, "flush with cash." This is exactly the opportunity they've been waiting for to make a change. 

Still, as important as the economic factors are, they do not tell the whole story. As more than a few observers have pointed out, "the Great Resignation" isn't just a search for a better job. What we are witnessing is part of our culture's search for deeper meaning. Studies suggest that rising rates of "burnout," such as exhaustion, stress, and overall dissatisfaction across workplace sectors, are leading workers to quit. 

Columnist Whizy Kim of Refinery29 puts it this way: "[We] want to believe that our jobs can not only provide financial stability, but also emotional and spiritual nourishment... In a time of increasing secularism, work remains our steadfast religion. Burnout hits when our work fails to live up to expectations of it." 

Surveys show that Americans work more hours than any other industrialized nation. That becomes an incredibly important factor when work is not seen as meaningful, i.e., not part of something bigger than ourselves. In certain extreme cases, work takes the place of God. We look to it as the source to fill our emotional, vocational, and relational needs. 

That's unsustainable. To the extent that the so-called "Great Resignation" is a cultural reset, it can be a good thing. On the other hand, it will not be a good thing unless it is a reset of more than work hours, policies, and minimum wage. It has to be a reset of our understanding of what work is for, something that would require rethinking what humans are for. 

Any search for a perfect, all-fulfilling job will be fruitless. Many young people are learning this right now. However, rather than rethink their search, some are opting out of work altogether. This is a mistake, not just because savings eventually run out and bills inevitably pile up, but because we were created, in part, for work. Work existed before the fall, and is therefore inherently connected with our worship and dignity as image-bearers. 


To be clear, work is not our full identity, but it is inseparable from who we were created to be. Even knowing this can help eliminate the stress of where to work; it's easier to make rational choices when one's entire sense of self doesn't hang in the balance. 

And yet, because our work is one way that we worship God, it's meaningful even when mundane. It's worthy of our highest efforts when, in mirroring our Creator, we bring order out of chaos, provide for our fellow creatures, and cultivate His creation. 

Especially in this cultural moment, how Christians work is part of our witness. Christians can demonstrate God's goodness by the joy and vibrancy we bring to our vocation. We can show His love, concern, and provision for people by how we manage people in love and service. We can dignify God's design for human beings in how we work and in how we rest. 

All told, it could be that "The Great Resignation," or as it is also called, "The Big Quit" is, for Christians, an even bigger opportunity.

Originally published at Breakpoint.org - reposted with permission.




Other News

January 20, 2022Here's What Your Fellow Americans Think Should Happen To The Unvaccinated

As we have seen all throughout human history, those that would like to impose tyranny upon a nation need at least a certain percentage of ...

January 20, 2022Are You A 'Terrorist'? Take This 50 Question Quiz And Find Out!

The U.S. Justice Department has just announced that it will be creating a brand new unit "to counter domestic terrorism", but just who is ...

January 20, 2022Persecution Watch 2022: Afghanistan Now Most Dangerous Country For Christians

The Islamic country replaces North Korea at the top of the World Watch List after 20 years. One in seven Christians worldwide suffers pers...

January 20, 2022UN Inquisition Of Israel A Never Ending Cycle

The United Nations has created a Star Chamber targeting the State of Israel. The inquisition was devised by the U.N. Human Rights Council ...

January 18, 2022The Coming Global Famine

The Genesis story of Joseph and Pharaoh may soon play out a second time. Desperate for food, most of the world will willingly give their w...

January 18, 2022Dramatic Demographic Shift No One Is Talking About - Islamic Europe

Within thirty years, according to the Pew Forum, the Muslim faithful who settled in Germany will equal the total number of Catholics and P...

January 18, 2022Christian Schools Who Uphold Biblical Sexuality Being Targeted

The real goal here isn't just agreeing to call a boy a girl. It's about driving all Bible-believing Christians, Christian education, and C...

Get Breaking News