About once a week I talk with a minister – usually a younger minister – who is miserable work environment in their current context. It isn’t always because the workplace is miserable. Sometimes it’s a misfit for them personally. Other times it is an unhealthy culture or a controlling leader.
I would never advise spending 40 years in a miserable environment. Life is short. Work doesn’t have to be miserable. And there are healthy places that understand and appreciate the change in workplace attitude. That’s a positive.
But what should you do when you find yourself in a difficult situation? How should you respond? Rather than quit, what other options do you have?
5 suggestions when a work environment is difficult:
Soak up all you can.
You’re learning valuable lessons – even in a miserable work environment. I’m not sure you can see them at the time, but it’s true. It won’t be a wasted experience if you learn from it. Some of my best leadership skills came from watching leaders do leadership the wrong way.
I once had a boss throw a huge sales book at my head because of disappointing numbers. I learned from that – throwing things doesn’t work.
Dream your next big dream.
Don’t quit dreaming. Invest your energies somewhere you enjoy outside of work. Create something inside or outside the place where you work that you can get excited about. These extra energies will keep your heart filled, which is critical. (Above all else guard the heart. Proverbs 4:23)
Work to make life better.
You may be the one positive voice encouraging others on your team. Chances are others are miserable too. Some people have better game faces. Even if this is your only purpose in being there, it’s a worthy cause.
Strengthen your patience muscle.
Sometimes the staying power takes more strength than leaving. It builds character and tenacity. You may be the senior leader someday and find yourself miserable again. The captain of a sinking ship isn’t supposed to jump ship.
Pray and watch.
Pray for discernment, change, delivery and relief. For small moments of encouragement. And watch for doors to open or things to change. God is doing something – working a plan – even when you can’t see His hand.
Are you miserable?
I’m not suggesting you stay forever. That doesn’t seem wise to me. I’m also not suggesting you quit — at least not immediately.
I am strongly suggesting you not waste the opportunities this time is presenting. Begin to see every moment of your life – good and bad – as character-building and life-shaping opportunities.