Changing jobs is a fact of life. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median tenure of a 25 to 34-year-old in one job as being 3.2 years. This lines up with other studies suggesting that the average person has a little over 12 jobs in their lifetime.
The moment you decide to start looking for another job is often the moment you begin to disengage from your current role (if you weren’t already). It’s perfectly normal to start to lose your effectiveness and productivity in your current job because you are emotionally already engaged in what life looks like in a different workplace.
The moment you decide to start looking for another job is often the moment you begin to disengage from your current role
The challenge for a Christian is that God would want us to honor our current employer. It is very difficult to honor someone who is paying your salary if you are not fully engaged in the work they are paying you to do.
Is there a way to keep doing your job well when you plan to leave?
This is a question I have had to personally wrestle with. I will never claim to have figured this out completely, but let me share some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Don’t Start Looking Unless It’s Time to Leave
At the time of writing this article, I am in the final weeks of working for Promise Keepers Canada | Impactus. The past twenty-four years of my life have been spent working for this organization. Along the way, many people asked me if I was planning to work anywhere else.
With only a couple of exceptions, I had a rule to guide me. I refused to start looking for another job because I knew I would emotionally disengage with my current role. If God wanted me to move on, he would have to bring other opportunities into my path without me trying to pursue them. This rule allowed me to stay focused and engaged in serving my employer, even in the really difficult times.
When people would approach me to consider a specific role, I had a commitment to prayer. My wife and I would pray for a month and ask God if He wanted us to pursue a different role. We would both need to agree before we would even entertain another position.
These rules served me well for many years, and then one day, something changed.
When God Starts to Lead You Out
In the fall of 2019, our church was looking for a new Lead Pastor. Some people around me encouraged me to consider applying for this. Once again, Shannon and I spent time in prayer, and we both agreed this might be God’s leading.
At this point, things started to really change. There are three simple steps I have tried to take in order to finish well in my current job.
1. Ask God to help you stay focused.
This may sound obvious, but sometimes the most obvious things are the ones we forget to do. As soon as I submitted my application for Lead Pastor, God started to challenge me about staying engaged in my current role. On a regular basis, I had to ask God for help to stay focused and fully invested in what was in front of me today.
There is no guarantee of what tomorrow brings, but the calling of Jesus for our lives is to be faithful with what God has put in front of us today. Ask God to help you do that, and you will be amazed at how He answers.
2. Be Accountable
One of the most important signs that God was helping me stay focused was when some of the people who work closest to me were surprised to find out I was planning to change jobs.
The people who work around you can see your work habits. They have conversations with you and know if you are all in or not. Ask those people to hold you accountable in making sure you are staying focused on your job.
3. Set Goals
Once the reality settled in for my upcoming transition, there was one final step I felt was needed in order to finish well. I took some time to listen to other staff around me about their concerns and identify the gaps that may exist when I am gone. Gaps are the things you do in your role that others don’t know what to do or even have the time for in their job. Sometimes those gaps only exist for a short period while someone else is identified to take over your job.
By working with other people around me, I have created a list of goals to accomplish before my final day. These goals keep me focused each day and really drive my agenda of what I’m trying to accomplish. Some of the goals are working on projects in advance, so others have a few months to catch up and learn. Other goals are about training some people to understand how and why I do certain things in my job. Each goal is ultimately about helping the organization continue to move forward and be successful beyond my time working here.
I believe one of the most important places where we testify to how Jesus has changed our life is in our workplace. This testimony is not only about proclaiming Jesus, but it is also about how we do our work – right up until the final day we are on the job. Ultimately, honoring your employer is about honoring God because God is the one who has truly provided the work for you.
The next time you start to look for a new job, consider how you will honor God in your current job right up until the day you leave.