Unless your industry has somehow remained stable and unphased through the pandemic, your job has likely changed. This is not because you did anything wrong. This is not because your boss randomly decided to reposition your job or dramatically alter your job description. This is not because your organization broke a promise to you. This is simply because we are in the midst of a global pandemic and much of what your job was built around has changed.
My job has changed. I am in the same role with the same people I love, but specifics of how I execute responsibilities within my role has changed dramatically.
Let’s just take one bullet point on my job description as an example: “Teach 60-65% of the weekends at Mariners Church.” While the fundamental responsibility of teaching remains, how the teaching is delivered has changed. In the good old days, I would prepare all week, wake up early Saturday mornings and review my message, teach it for the first time on Saturday night, receive feedback from a team I trust, make tweaks Saturday night, and deliver it three times on Sunday morning. Not anymore. This week my message must be done by Wednesday when I teach it for the first time to a camera to capture for those hosting church in their homes and for our online services. I live with days of thinking I should have said something differently. And then I will preach the message five times this weekend to smaller outdoor gatherings. The current context requires being prepared earlier, preaching for multiple contexts, and delivering the message over a longer period of time. It is very different.
No one baited and switched me. No one wronged me. I am not a victim. The context just changed suddenly and dramatically. How we do navigate the sudden and dramatic change to our roles? How do we lead change management on our own souls? Though I don’t believe I am doing this perfectly, I am by God’s grace excited about the new state of my job. Here is what I suggest:
1. Grieve the loss of the old job.
As we know, it is important and healthy to acknowledge what has been lost – even if we hold on to hope that things will be restored (which I do with faith and optimism). But if this pandemic and the implications of it are a year or more, it is important to not try and hold on to old ways of doing things because by doing so we would not be leading well in the current reality.
I have walked into our worship center multiple times. I have stood on the platform in the dark in the middle of the day and longed for the day when it will be filled again with worshippers. I have remembered all the great things the Lord has done in that room. I have prayed with expectation for the future. I have grieved that I won’t be in that room this weekend. I have had to come to grips with the reality that part of my job, as it was when I was hired, is not the current reality.
2. Look with vision at your new job.
To serve the people well and be faithful to what the Lord has given us, we must look with vision at our new jobs. Grieve, yes. But to only bemoan the loss of what was will cause us to miss opportunities to serve people now.
I wrote out the former item on my job description: “teach 60-65% of the weekends” and replaced it with “teach 60-65% of the time in multiple contexts to deliver God’s Word to people through multiple formats to reach people where they are.” Yes, that means more work. But it also means more opportunity. More opportunity to grow personally, more opportunity to try new things, and most importantly more opportunity to serve people.
If we don’t have vision for our new jobs, we will be crushed by our new jobs. Yes, it will take more than vision to sustain us! But vision can surely help inspire commitment, creativity, and passion.
3. Hire yourself for the new job.
We may get to offer ourselves our old jobs back one day, but those old jobs are not our current reality. So, offer yourself your new job. If you don’t want to accept your new job, repeat steps one and two. Several times. As you do, thank the Lord you have a job. Remind yourself that work is a gift from Him, and you have an incredible opportunity. Remember that a lot of people would love your new job. If your new job still does not fire you up, get some counsel. And consider if the people would be better served if you handed the role over to someone who would be thrilled to have it.
In the midst of the grieving and the looking at what is required in this season, I asked myself if would I have accepted the role as it is today. “Eric, would you have taken the reality of this role as it is now?” Absolutely! That was the light bulb moment for me. That led me to stop comparing what I am doing currently with what I was doing previously and to view my current reality as a role I am thrilled to be in.
Comparing your current pandemic role to your former pre-pandemic role is not helpful or fruitful. Committing yourself to your “current-in-the-middle-of-a-pandemic-role” is.
Yes, I still look forward to the day when parts of my old role are renewed! But the Lord has given me vision and passion for my role as it is currently and I am thankful to Him.