It’s no secret that times are tough right now in the oil industry. I know this first-hand.
With such a huge drop in revenue because of low commodity prices, publicly held companies are doing nearly everything they can to cut costs, make ends meet, and return value to shareholders.
Unfortunately, sometimes being frugal, pacing out projects, and renegotiating contracts is not enough. The next thing that happens is employees start getting laid off.
Over the last few months, I faced a very real possibility that I would be laid off.
I know that the reason for layoffs is simply to right-size the workforce during periods of reduced or little activity. The reason is not personal; it’s not to be mean. It literally is “just business.”
But if you’re on the receiving end, it can definitely feel personal. It hurts our self-esteem, our sense of worth.
Why is that?
It is my opinion that we Americans, in general, have a bad habit of attaching too much of our identity, and value, to our careers.
We are a productive people, yes. We are innovative, sure. We chase the American Dream, making better lives for ourselves through hard work and advancement. These are great things but they are not ultimate things. We are more than our jobs. Our identity and value is not defined by a pay stub or a W-2 form.
I am a development geologist. I help my company understand the best way to develop the oil and gas reservoirs it has found thousands of feet below the surface of the Earth. Sometimes I even get to put the X on the map for multi-million dollar wells.
I’m also a Christian. I’m a son, and a big brother and a little brother. I’m a husband and a paran. I’m a Vintage Partner and serve on the Connect Team. I’m a friend and a fraternity brother. I’m a neighbor. I’m more.
My job is secure for now, but through the time of uncertainty and threat, there was conflict within me. Like any normal person, it stressed me out. I worried. I was anxious about how my wife and I would afford the house we bought last year, continue to be generous with others, and fund the life we want in the future.
I want to share with you in how my wife and I journeyed through this, solely for the purpose of encouraging others who may be in similar situations. (It was hard to write the following section. The last thing I want is for anyone to think it is an attempt to bring glory to ourselves. Please don’t.)
Learning to Navigate an Identity Crisis
- Reflection. Through our understanding of the Bible, we realized we are valuable for one reason only, and it’s not for our careers: it’s because the God of the universe says we are. The loss of a job, however well paid or well respected, does nothing to change our intrinsic worth in the eyes of God. And frankly, His appraisal is the only one that matters.
- Prayer. We praised God for work. He created it! We thanked Him for His constant provision in our lives. We were clear about the outcome we wanted: for me to keep my job. We prayed for the industry, the company, and my fellow coworkers. We shared the situation with our community group and families, and they prayed too on our behalf.
- Trust. This was the tough one. It was relatively easy to reflect and pray, but it was more challenging to firmly believe God would answer our prayers favorably. We read Scripture, mustered our faith, and stepped in accordance. We ruled out the option to stop or reduce our giving to the Church. We fought the urge to start scouting for other jobs. We continued to be generous with our friends. I continued to invest in relationships with my coworkers.
- Celebration. We were blessed: in the second round of selections, I was chosen to remain in my position. We praised God. We jumped up and down. We told our friends and family the good news. We enjoyed a date night.
I’m not suggesting that this is a foolproof 4-step formula for success. However, I do sincerely think God rewarded our reflection regarding our identity and value, and our acts of faith.
Are you going through something similar? I encourage you to consider that, if you are a Christian, your identity and value is in Christ. That will never change, regardless of what happens in the workplace. May you pray and act in a way that demonstrates that understanding. I think God will bless it.