We spoke to Chris Dinsdale who has worked for Christians in Property and Midweek in Mayfair, giving pastoral care to businessmen. We asked him how Christians should think of redundancy and how we might help those who go through it in the coming year.
Q: What would you say to a Christian who has been made redundant?
A: First, I would reassure them of God’s character and His loving promises to His people. In truth, He has a master plan, which is to bring us to salvation, and on the way to teach us to love and trust Him better. This is far bigger and more significant than any career plan we may be holding dear. In fact, in some cases our career plan is so important to us that we need to lose it just to recover a sense of God’s primary importance in our lives. In Jeremiah 29:11 and in Psalm 23 we are told of the Lord’s aspirations for us and of His watchfulness over us even ‘in the valley of the shadow of death.’ This God isn’t going to forsake us just because we lose a job. I would also suggest that, for many people, redundancy has created a great opportunity to reassess how their gifts and abilities are being used in their work, and sometimes enables them to change direction.
Q: What about the feeling of failure or embarrassment some people have?
A: I would remind them that it is the job that has been made redundant, not them. The truth is that God still values them for who they are, not just what they do! This is a vital correction to our understanding of job loss, as we so often hang our identity on what we do, hence if we lose our job we tend to think of ourselves as being worth less than those who are still employed. Losing a job is a bit like bereavement, especially if you’ve worked with the same colleagues for some time. The effect can be very sudden, with notification in the morning and your desk cleared by lunchtime. That can hit really hard, and we need to remember that it can take a long time to get over. Some people may have to learn to forgive their employer, and that too can take time.
Q: Would you use a conversation about job loss to talk about Jesus?
A: I would pray for an opening in the conversation, and I would pray that my treatment of the colleague would encourage them to see the difference Christ makes in my life. To create the possibility of any such conversations, we have to persevere in the support we offer, as we show people that they are still important to us.
Q: How can we behave towards colleagues who are made redundant?
A: If you’re a Christian boss, then you should do everything you can to make the redundancy easy: don’t try to shirk the responsibilities you have before the law, or before God. Make sure the severance pay is as good as possible, and arrange for outplacement consultants to help your people into their next jobs. With peers, the key thing is not to devalue your colleagues because they lose their jobs. Remember, they may be feeling highly embarrassed; and also remember that many of those left in your workplace will be tempted to feel superior to those who go. Think about ways to extend Christ’s love and compassion to your colleagues. Make a point of keeping in contact with them, of meeting them for lunch, of encouraging them as they look for work, and of praying for them, that this may be a time of significant positive change in their lives. As with all intimate conversations, we have to be very sure that we know our motivation for involvement, and also that we know when to call a halt to things before they go too far – I’m thinking here of the potential problems that may come from being an intimate support to someone of the opposite sex. It may be useful to think of a Christian friend of the same sex who would be willing to help.
“It is the job that has been made redundant, not the person.”
“Some people may have to learn to forgive their employer, which can take time.”