Last week a friend shared some bad news—she had been “let go.” She works hard and has solid credentials, but things just weren’t clicking at this job. Her bosses said her work products did not meet their expectations. Beyond that, though, they also said her personality wasn’t a great fit for the company. She’s really shaken up. Being let go is a nice way to say she was fired, and that hurts a lot more than being laid off along with a whole team or division.
What We Do and Who We Are
As professionals, we work hard at our jobs. As a Christian, I believe there is a reason why God gave us skills and opportunities to apply those skills at work. It’s easy enough to think those skills and opportunities are what God has called us to on this earth, and then confuse “what we do” with “who we are.”
We spend so much of our time at our jobs, it makes sense that those jobs would be a big part of who we are. And when that job is taken from us in a way that suggests we weren’t “good enough,” it’s no wonder a person would doubt their identity.
What should we do? How do we respond?
Identity in Christ
The “spiritual” answer to this situation is to remind ourselves or our friends that our identity and worth is in the Lord—that we have been “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3) or that we “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV)—but in the moments of rejection, those verses can sound trite.
I think the first thing we need to do is recognize it really stings. It hurts to be fired. I understand from talking with other friends who have been in this situation that it can be devastating. It’s easy for us who are sitting in jobs right now to say, She’s a good person, she’ll get a job soon. But if you’re the one who is unemployed, fear and doubt can fill your mind: What about the long-term unemployment statistics? Will anyone hire me after I’ve been fired? Does God not like me? How could he allow this?
It has real ramifications professionally and emotionally, and I don’t think we should be afraid of these feelings. Because not only is your identity in Christ, but Jesus is strong enough to handle your feelings. We are children of “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, NIV). That verse and others like it show us that we shouldn’t just pretend nothing is wrong—God understands you will feel pain, and he wants to comfort you.