I was talking to a staff member of a church recently who is ready to quit. But, he can’t.
What he’s experiencing is not depression, in my opinion. It could turn into that at some point, if he’s not careful, but today it’s frustration. Severe frustration. The kind that keeps you up at night. The problems appear to be more external than internal. They are work related, but they are impacting every other aspect of his life. (They always do.)
It’s a poor work environment. He is frustrated because he has given everything he knows to give, but nothing seems to matter. He feels underappreciated, underutilized and unfulfilled. He’s treated lousy by a controlling leader who never acknowledges his accomplishments. He’s tried confronting gently, firmly and directly. Nothing he does or says makes things better.
This staff person is going home every night wishing he didn’t have to return the next day. It’s a miserable life, and so far nothing is changing. And he’s miserable. More miserable everyday. He’s ready to quit, but so far he has sensed no release from God in this position and believes he is supposed to stay for now. So what does he do?
(By the way, I don’t think God always leaves us in situations like this. These times always serve a purpose in our lives, but many times God releases us to pursue a healthier environment. Don’t confuse loyalty to a bad leader with obedience to God. They aren’t always the same. That requires walking close enough to God to discern His will.)
There will be times when, apart from any God-calling, the economics, timing or other personal or family situations dictate you stay for now. What do you do then?
Here’s the reality I had to share with him: The truth is we can’t control our environment. We can’t control other people and their reactions to us. We can only control how we respond to life.
Here are seven things I encouraged him to do:
That’s an obvious answer, but it’s the most powerful answer. The question I had for him is: Have you really prayed? Have you prayed for God to change the circumstances or for Him to change you? There’s a huge difference in those two prayers.
2. Remember the good times.
I keep a file of memories. Notes I’ve received of encouragement. Emails that came at “just the right time.” I store them in a special file and, on especially difficult days, I pull out this file and review better days. My life has been filled with seasons. Some good and some bad. I want to remember the good times when I’m experiencing the bad. And I’m always encouraged, looking back, that better days are ahead. Again.
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