“Do I stay or do I leave my job?” We enter the marketplace or paid ministry and find ourselves working with people in organizations with different expectations, motivation, purposes, and values. In the complication of navigating this world we will repeatedly with varying ramifications face the question, “Do I stay or do I go?” Do I stay and work through the issues in front of me or is what I am facing a clear sign that it is time for me to leave this job? Personality, family upbringing, sense of calling, fear, and numerous other factors will begin to factor into decision making. However, simply stated:
How do I know when to leave or stay in my job?
We may not know how pivotal this decision is until years later looking back. So, before over analyzing a pro’s and con’s list, start with this often-overlooked foundational evaluation of the people involved. In the words of Proverbs:
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
This is far more than a helpful tip for teenagers to watch out for peer pressure. Yes, good application, but what about at your job? You are being constantly, slowly and often without noticing changed to be more like the people you spend the majority of your time with.
Relationships within the culture of an organization begin to transform how we make decisions and see the world. What was once foolish can become the new norm simply by staying too long. Rarely today would we call out a group of people as fools. It just isn’t part of our normal vocabulary and it isn’t always simple to determine. Also, fools aren’t always the one suffering harm.
Notice it is the “companion” of fools who suffer harm.
How do I tell if I am in the company of the wise or fools?
Ask yourself, friends, spouse and trusted advisors, would this be the company or group I would choose to associate with if I started over? Does this culture, work environment, church or friendship group strive to live with integrity, honesty, transparency, courage, empathy and humility? (You get the idea; I’d suggest building your own list starting in Colossians 3 or Galatians 5)
If yes, then you are probably in an environment to grow wise by walking with the wise. Stick it out. Only leave if there is a very compelling case. You may find it to be one of the best seasons of your life, career and personal growth.
If no, then you are not in a safe place and are likely to experience “harm” as the proverb warns. You may be thinking, “I can change my company, church, friendship group or colleagues.” Only a very compelling reason should compel you to stay since you are more likely to be the one who changes and suffers harm.
Each situation is immensely challenging and vastly different. This verse does not give permission to demonize another’s character as your excuse to leave. No, you may be walking with wise and everyone agrees to part ways, in that real scenario it will be a good departure without harm.
Do I stay or do I go? Evaluate the Proverbs 13:20 environment and then make a move!
I am asking myself the following questions regularly: Am I becoming more Christ-like in my character as a result of my time with the people in this organization? Does the culture here reflect what I read of the character of Christ and his love for people and world around me? Am I in a safe environment to grow, make mistakes and learn? Do I experience grace, love and challenge? If the world was filled with more people like who I am surrounded by would it be a better place?
Q. Who are several people in your life with enough perspective you could ask to help you evaluate if you are walking with the wise or if you are in a place as a companion of fools?
Q. What harm have you seen people experience in unhealthy organizations? How is that related to a “companion of fools” being in leadership?
Q. What scares you about making a change? Maybe your change isn’t job or career, but intentional friendships or family choices. What can you do this week to walk with the wise?