Jimmy’s Table PodcastCuriously evangelical. Politically homeless. A dreamer of small things. On this podcast, I am having conversations about the intersection of faith, life, and culture.

Why “Quiet Quitting” Is No Way To Work (Or Live) – Episode #163

Quiet Quitting

“Quiet Quitting” is a recent trend you may or may not be aware of in our culture. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, quiet quitting is a movement rising in popularity, where employees choose to no longer go “above and beyond” or the proverbial “extra mile” at work.

Quiet quitters are individuals who feel burned out on corporate America and their jobs. They are tired of saying yes to everything, volunteering for special projects, working extra hours, being available around the clock, and doing all the things outside of their job description. They believe they should “act your wage” at work.

That’s not to say they believe you should be a slacker at work. When at work, quiet quitters believe you should do 100% of what is expected of you, and to give your best and give your all. But all the extra stuff? Quiet quitters are checking out when it comes to doing more than what’s expected of them. The quiet quitting movement is ultimately about trying to find a healthy “work life” balance, and creating healthy “boundaries” in the workplace that frees us from the tyranny of the capitalist class.

There’s a lot of things I like about this quiet quitting movement, and I understand it’s appeal, and sympathize with many of the arguments made on LinkedIn, TikTok, and the blogosphere.

I definitely understand what it’s like to “sell your soul to the company store.” There’s been times in my life where I’ve worked until I could work no more, and work consumed me. The effects it had on my life were not good. Burnout and overwork are real things that we must guard against. Not only because working yourself to death is bad for your life outside of work, but it’s actually just bad for work. Studies show that we can only work so much, and at some point, putting in all those extra hours will actually decrease, not increase, your actual productivity levels at work.

To be great workers, we need to prioritize our physical and mental health. We need times like a Biblical Sabbath, where we just turn everything off, and and rest. We need to put time in the gym, cook and eat healthy, to do activities that bring us joy, spend time with loved ones, and actually take a break from everything. Work, hard work, long work– these things are important, but work is not the only thing we should focus on.

But with all this said, I believe that there are some things about this “quiet quitting” movement that I just can’t tolerate, and believe it to be corrosive to our souls.

First, the idea flies in the face of the teachings of Jesus. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” The apostle Paul said when it came to work, we should not just carry out our tasks with a sense of “eye service” as “man pleasers,” but that whatever we do, we should do as “unto the Lord,” and not men. For Christians, we aren’t just doing whatever it takes to get by at work, but we are doing all that we do for the “glory of God” alone. Thus, when a Christian works, he’s not simply working to get a paycheck or make his boss wealthy. When a Christian works, whatever the job is, he brings a sense of meaning and purpose to his work, no matter what the task, no matter how mundane. This philosophy of work, as dubbed by famed sociologist Max Weber, is also known as “The Protestant Work Ethic.”

Second, I believe “quiet quitting” is a bad philosophy of work. While I totally respect and affirm the idea of setting boundaries at work, I believe that in only looking to do “what’s required of me” at work will negatively impact the quality level of work you engage in, but is a guaranteed way to fail to bring your best to your job. I personally believe, based on my experience, unless you strive to go above and beyond, and unless you stive to give 110%, you’ll actually never give the 100% required of you as work. As humans and have this tendency to “miss the mark” when it comes to the things we do. And unless we strive to give more than we feel like we can give, we’ll never truly put our best work out there. Only in striving to give 110% will we ever give 100%. If we only strive to give 100%, we can be sure we’ll actually do less, and you’ll likely settle becoming a mediocre employee who never truly “works their wage.”

Third, it’s often said that, “Nobody on their death bed wishes they would’ve spent more time in the office.” And I understand that sentiment. But at the same time, I think that’s something of a shame. Working, and working hard, is something that makes the world a better and more beautiful place. By working hard we unlock the potential of the world to flourish, and to create value for all to enjoy. God created marble and placed it in the ground, but it was through the back breaking work of individuals digging that rock out the ground, and through the talented hands of individuals like sculptor Michelangelo, that “The David” was created. And don’t we all wish we lived in a world where such people maybe spent just a little extra time in the office?

So in conclusion, while I think there’s definitely a place to create healthy boundaries at the work place, and to not sell your soul to the company store, I find the entire “quiet quitting” phenomenon an unfortunate trend in our culture.

I don’t want to live in a world of quiet quitters. And I never want to be such myself. I want to live in a world where people bring a sense of purpose to their work, where they go above and beyond what’s asked for them, and to work hard, even to the point of feeling exhausted. But it’s in such moments I want people to call a time out, take a break, close their laptop, spend time with their family, go on vacation, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

I ultimately believe that quiet quitting to be a poor attitude towards work, and frankly, it’s ultimately a poor way to live your life. You are likely to spend the vast majority of your life working, and often away from family and friends because of the demands of life and the workplace. If you are going to spend the majority of your life working, then if you want to live a life worth living, and to live well, you should strive to give more than you think you can give whenever you work. After all, who wants to finish their life saying “I did good enough to get by.” I want to live a life where I not only give my all, but strived to give more than I thought I could. And in doing such, I will have lived a life worth living. I believe quiet quitting to ultimately be a threat to living the good life. A life worth living is a life where it’s worth working hard.

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