Matthew 10:10 – Travel light, and don’t even pack an extra change of clothes in your backpack. Trust God for everything, because the one who works for him deserves to be provided for.

Gratitude Day 668

You have probably seen the signs as well.

“Closed early because of lack of employees.”

“Please be patient with us. We are short-staffed and doing the best we can.”

“Hiring with a sign-on bonus.”

So many places of employment are trying to higher workers these days. Yet, it seems there just are not many people looking for work.

In early June, the Labor Department released a report stating that a record four million Americans quit their jobs in just April. News outlets are calling our current situation “The Great Resignation.” This complicated current employment reality identifies how different groups of workers have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and our relationship with work.

There are a possible number of reasons why people are re-evaluating their employment status. While the pandemic initially created obstacles for some people’s employment, there are other reasons why we are still experiencing a shift in employment 18+ months later into the pandemic. Some people are burned out by the demands created by the pandemic. Some were close to retirement age pre-pandemic and are opting for retirement. Others have adjusted priorities within their families, with one parent being more available to assist children with schoolwork as the homeschool numbers have swelled.

Then, there are the group of workers who have been nudged because the pandemic encouraged them to rethink the role of work in their lives altogether. These folks are embracing downsizing and are voluntarily reducing work hours to allow more time and space for other things in their lives.

There are folks who no longer want to commute and are willing to take a pay cut to work from home more days. Some have voluntarily shifted to part-time work. Flexibility seems pretty important to many workers these days. For myself, I place a high value on being able to choose when I work for my paying job and when I do not.

For decades, Americans have worked long hours, made money, accumulated stuff and found themselves exhausted from this constant wheel that never seemed to end. Most workers saw no alternative option to their circumstances. This was until we sheltered in place and only essential workers reported to employer-owned buildings. In these last months, most of us have rethought how much we really “want” to work and whether the extra money earned from working more and longer hours is worth it in the long-run.

In chatting with some of my college friends recently, it is clear we are all evaluating our individual work status. We are in our mid-50’s. Retirement is foremost on our minds. Most of us plan to retire early from our career jobs. Interestingly, we yearn for less responsibility and freedom from being leaders for the companies we work for. Yes, we might take another job after retirement, but it will be quite different from our current occupations.

I believe some of the current labor shortage crisis was brewing before the pandemic. We are in the middle of the largest percentage of the current workforce, the baby boomers, aging into retirement. We have known for years that there would soon be a significant shortage of skilled-labors, such as plumbers, electricians, machinists and the like. This last summer, far fewer J-visa students from outside of the U.S. were able to come and work in many hospitality and vacation-driven work positions than previous years. With more restrictions on immigration, positions often filled by non-born U.S. people have been difficult to fill. Think of people who clean hotels and office buildings, in restaurants and other eating establishments, farm workers and harvesters and a lot of other jobs that many Americans find less-than-desirable as an occupation.

During the past number of months, I have struggled with my state of employment. I work part-time for an agricultural company. When I was hired, flexibility was a main priority. My boss and I have been flexible with each other. I work additional time at certain times, put in long hours and make sure work is completed. Generally, I work at the office one day a week. When I need to leave work and run grandkids to their activities, I do so. I work from home other times during the week and complete tasks as needed.

This part-time work allows me time to do other things. I volunteer my time and skills to a variety of local organizations that are important to me. When someone needs me to fill-in or help out, I can be available. I prioritize the ministry opportunities and create opportunities to perform them. I have yet to have a day in which I am bored and wonder what I am going to do.

Could I be working full-time and provide skills to a company that is short-staffed? Of course. Is this a priority for me right now? Obviously not. Hubby Rick and I have chosen to live a lifestyle which allows me not to work full-time.

Because Hubby Rick works nights, we have lunch together most days. We might go for a walk during the day. With a flexible schedule, we choose to do things during the week because we can.

At times, do I feel guilty that I am not working more hours in a paid position? You bet. I was raised to work hard and contribute to the community. I still work hard. My “pay” just comes in different forms.

I do not know what the solutions are for filling the seemingly endless number of positions available these days. Have people refrained from going back to work because of extended benefits offered to people during the pandemic? Probably for some people. But there is more to the story.

Should a pandemic encourage each of us to re-evaluate what really is important to us and how we want to live our lives? I hope so. Maybe working less or shifting how and why we work can be a very positive outcome. Should these decisions only be determined by our government or employers? No. We each have the opportunity to truly think about and determine what we want out lives to represent.

While working hard and providing for our families is important, this is more to life. In discussion with my college friends, one person shared how one of their children does not want to have to work as much their parents. This child feels the parents have dedicated too much of their time to working and prefers to pursue a professional career where this will be different.

We may chide younger generations who are prioritizing such choices and want flexibility now. People my age recall how we’ve put in the time and years and feel younger people should have to do the same. But maybe these younger generations can challenge us to rethink priorities. Is it wrong for them to want something different than what we did? Do we need all the “stuff” many of us have accumulated or would having less allow us more financial and work freedom?

Interestingly, God promotes boundaries with work. God promotes a day of Sabbath. Unfortunately, most of us think a full day of Sabbath is unnecessary. I often find myself “catching up” on Sundays after Hubby Rick has gone to work. He is much more consistent about finding down time on his days off. I wish I would do the same.

Jesus also tells the disciples to travel lightly. When he sends them off to neighboring towns as missionaries, he tells them not to take anything with them: no food, no change of clothing, nothing. They will be provided for, he assures them. I seldom walk out of the house without water, snacks and a bag full of things “just in case.” Some of us may not be able to travel as lightly as the disciples did. However, most of us could do with a lot less. Having less would mean more time, space, and opportunities to create lasting memories rather than accumulating another fancy dishtowel which is paid for because we worked X period of time this past week.

Yes, I think about the potential leadership gap our country may soon experience because of less desire to volunteer, give of ourselves and contribute to the companies we work for and the communities where we live. Yes, we need to educate younger generations about how to be fiscally independent. Yes, hard work will never completely go away.

Yet, this is a time in our history when we can push pause and think about what is most important. We can choose to create more Sabbath opportunities in our lives which provides us opportunities to connect with God on a deeper level. We can choose to live in such a way that less is more, and we find a level of happiness because of this. We can choose to let these last 18+ months challenge us to rethink what is most important and then design our lives in such a way that these values and priorities are what we live. Every. Single. Day.

These shifts may come slow … or they can be quick. We do not have to sell our homes and move into a tiny house for this to be accomplished. I do pray that we are in conversation with each other and God about these things. For this is where we learn, grow and are guided.

For the opportunity to rethink what is important in daily living, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – It has been such a tough time for many people of late. Our ability to think and change and adjust has been tested. Help us to listen to each other and hear other perspectives. Challenge me to be open to alternative ideas than just my own. May I hear the things that will help me prioritize what is most important for today. Amen.

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