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Quiet Quitting

In an office today, an employee will close their laptop at 5:00 p.m. and go home—without their laptop in hand, without a “to do” list of emails to write before bedtime, without a stack of work papers to read before returning to the office.

Why? Because work that spills into life beyond the office sucks dry their enthusiasm for the work’s purpose. Because work-related stresses are deteriorating their mental health. Because their job description specifies 40 work hours per week.

In a fast-food restaurant today, an employee will greet customers and run the register and take orders and mop the floor—but they will not step in to supervise the kitchen or offer to complete end-of-day tallies or stay late to cover a missed shift.

Why? Because life commitments beyond work need to be honored. Because work satisfaction doesn’t drive their self-satisfaction. Because additional responsibilities should come with additional pay.

“Above and beyond” is a highly praised work ethic in employees, but as a work culture of employers, “above and beyond” can contribute to dissatisfaction, burnout, and turnover.

Why? Because unspoken expectations (“You’ll complete 55 hours’ worth of tasks in 40 hours/week”) lead to unmet goals. Because “going the extra mile” is too often code for “working more for the same pay.” Because busyness isn’t purpose. Because the constant hustle to impress an employer problematically ties self-worth to professional achievement.

That’s why “quiet quitting” is trending in business news, as employees reinforce their personal boundaries around work: “I will work on my responsibilities within the limits of time and pay set for this job.” They’re not quitting work. They’re quitting the work culture of “above and beyond.”

Quiet quitting echoes the desire for justice heard across historical movements for workplace fairness: movements that urged fair wages, reasonable shifts, protections from exploitation, equal pay across genders and races, paid sick days; movements that achieved measurable rights for the sake of an immeasurable belief that people should not be defined by their economic benefit to others.

People should not be defined by their economic benefit to others. 

Not in the for-profit world. Not in the nonprofit world. Not in the church world. Not at all.

Somewhere in a workplace today, an employee is known as a person, not a job title; supported as a person, not a buffer against the bottom line; respected as a person, not a means to an end; engaged as a person, not an asset or liability. May it be so in every place of employment.

written for Witness for Justice

Ashamed

In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me. (Psalm 71:1-2, NRSV)

One thing about living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the debilitating shame. The agonizing memory of helplessness and horror in the face of violence. The ruthless inner demons that taunt, “You should’ve done something different” or “It’s your fault.” The gaping pit that swallows you whole at the slightest hint of being helpless again, of failing again, of disappointing again.

Trauma-induced shame kills pride, and not the sinful kind of pride. Shame kills the joyful pride of being who you are in the skin God gave you. Shame leaves a residue of self-loathing, especially when the complex scaffolding of coping mechanisms falls apart in front of others.

Shame tears the fabric of trust between victims and their support systems. With every reassurance to a trauma survivor that “It wasn’t your fault” and “There was nothing you could do,” PTSD tightens its grip and whispers, “Don’t let them lie to you. You know you should’ve done something. You know you should’ve known better.”  

The very first time I tried to articulate my traumas to a trusted listener, I couldn’t form any words. The shame of it all was too overwhelming to say aloud. I only wept. For an hour I wept, and for an hour he simply listened to my weeping.

Listening, as it turns out, was the first step of rescue I needed. An hour of being listened to without judgment allowed me to be everything I loathed myself for being but didn’t let others see: a complete wreck, a sobbing failure, a functional mess, an exhausted heap of terror. Even without words, my shame was heard and seen with immense compassion, giving me a glimpse of what it might mean (eventually) to give myself that same compassion. 

Prayer: Save me by your listening, O God. Set aside judgment, incline your ear, and listen with love as I fall apart in your presence. Do not let shame sink me, I pray.

written for the Daily Devotional

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