Why Job Termination is No Cause for Suicide
Let’s learn why job termination is no cause for suicide or even the thought of it!
I. Getting Fired is Devastating
II. How I suffered a Job Loss
III. One Must First be Destroyed Then Fired
IV. This Job Loss Caused Financial Devastation
V. Fearing a New Job Search
VI. Employment Loss Forces an Identity Crisis
VII. A Pastor Who Never Recovered
VIII. From Loss to God’s Ultimate Assignment
Getting Fired is Devastating
There are very few things in life which will send someone into a tailspin more than getting fired from a job they love and sacrificed for. Although many brush it off and move on, others struggle to move on.
Healthline reports that there is a cocktail of emotions when suffering job loss.
If someone has a working career of ten (10) years or more, there is a high probability they have been fired at least once. I worked for more than twenty-four (24) years before being fired from a job.
It just so happened it was the job I loved doing most.
Read on and be encouraged to understand one (1) emotionally taxing event doesn’t have to end your life.
How I Suffered a Job Loss
I had worked for almost twenty-four (24) years before suffering my first forced termination.
The shame, grief, and humiliation became a lot to bear. Unlike many, I understood, at least for the final three years, the employer would find a way to rid themselves of me.
Put more simply, this was not sudden and certainly was expected. The employer was a non-profit Christian organization called the Denver Rescue Mission.
When I began, I was excited to be working in a place with others who shared my beliefs.
For a believer, nothing is more comforting than being able to pray with coworkers. As time went on, I realized that although prayer was plentiful, this was just another company.
Prayer is crucial for spiritual and emotional health according to Pew Research:
The mission was a great cause!
Whether a Christian bakery or nonprofit, there are certain federal, state, and local laws which apply. Although this organization did charitable deeds, they had to follow employment law as well.
Rarely does employment law reflect biblical principles, however. I rose through the ranks at The Denver Rescue Mission and became a director of one of their properties. One night, my supervisor insisted I do something to a homeless family because they had not followed the rules.
By that time, I had done so dozens of times, so the request was not unusual.
What was unusual however, was I could find no evidence this family had broken organizational rules. Absent that proof, I refused my supervisor’s directive to evict the family.
Afterwards, my supervisor, a professed Preacher of Jesus Christ, tried to destroy me.
One Must First Be Destroyed Then Fired
Termination is a process like any other. Someone must, first, destroy your name and credibility before they come after you.
Believe me; your Human Resources file has items in it that you know nothing about. Whether true or untrue is irrelevant.
I continued to stand up to this bully and the organization finally had to act. My supervisor was demoted, stripped of power, and humiliated. After this, things went smoothly for another three (3) years.
Around the spring/summer of 2014, the time for leadership’s revenge had come.
At this time, I had a large social media presence.
One video I uploaded to YouTube, denounced the wickedness of same-sex marriage and that President Obama had sanctioned it. I was promptly terminated for daring to call out a ‘Black President’ in a manner which our community commonly does.
Let’s make it plainer: white Christians, terminated me, an African American, for calling out a Black President who supported gay marriage. What is even more crazy is they HATED having a black President!
Certainly, they didn’t need a reason to terminate me, but this made it sting so much more. Of course, that was what they wanted.
This Job Loss Caused Financial Devastation
By the time of my termination, I was earning about $70,000 when salary, benefits, and health insurance were combined. Having no college education at the time, I knew it would be difficult to immediately replace this.
I had never been terminated before and being in my early forties, I began to worry in a way I never had. Yes, I know what God’s Word says about “worry” in Matthew Chapter 6, nevertheless.
Here is a helpful reminder:
I was hurt, disappointed, ashamed, and felt a deep sense of loss. I cannot, however, admit to feeling suicidal. To me, nothing is ever that serious. This is not meant to impugn the feelings of others.
The longer I live, the more I realize it is folly to judge so harshly those who have a thought of self-murder.
Great employees take some form of ownership in where they work. They have invested emotionally into something that they believe in.
It does not have to be a great cause either, but it is ‘their’ cause. When that is ripped away, all sorts of thoughts race through one’s mind. If someone has crushing personal debt or large financial obligations, those feelings become even more intense.
Fearing a New Job Search
There is another struggle to deal with post termination as well: being forced to seek other employment. When that is coupled with the specter of having to admit a recent termination, a cocktail of overwhelming emotion occurs.
Check out this headline on job search depression:
As hard as this is to hear, you must never again love your job more than your bosses! As a young United States Marine, I was trained to love God, country, and the Marine Corps.
This included loving these more than myself.
This was also another reason the termination hurt so much. The CEO, Brad Meuli, served in the Marine Corps many years before I did. We often had conversations about our beloved Corps. I always believed that Marines protected other Marines.
After watching this man for seven (7) years, it was almost impossible to believe he served in my corps!
He hated black people, openly flirted with young women when married, and had no integrity. I overheard he and a woman named “Greta”, while eating lunch in Brad’s office, having a “no-no” conversation.
This was in stark contrast to another leader at the mission: Kevin Mann.
Although a seemingly harsh statement about Brad, many years later, look at the lack of diversity in the rescue mission leadership team.
Kevin had the “look”, discipline, and integrity of a Marine. As a matter of fact, had he told me he served, I would have believed him right down to his “high and tight” buzz cut.
After being honorably discharged, I was never able to shake this commitment regardless of workplace.
By the time of this termination, I had been out of my beloved Marine Corps for more than sixteen (16) years.
Truthfully, if you love a business more than leadership, you are “out of your lane.”
It took many years to swear off ever getting out of my lane again, but I was finally able to. We come to these emotional crisis points with job loss when we lose perspective.
If you are considering suicide after a job loss, you have lost perspective dear one.
The sun will come up tomorrow, and the day after. Hold on to this fact and keep breathing.
Employment Loss Forces an Identity Crisis
I have read articles on this topic and most provide a three (3), four (4), or five (5) step process to get through job loss.
However, they are not dealing with what is most important — the loss of purpose and to some extent personal identity.
That is the most pressing issue here.
Why would a Believer in Jesus Christ so intermingle self-identity with something so easily taken away?
Jesus told a story of a man who had gotten wealthy and needed to build bigger barns to store his newly acquired wealth. The man had become so enamored with the thought of acquiring wealth that he had forgotten that it would not last.
On any given day, what is most precious to you can be ripped away! This became even more apparent during the COVID19 ‘plan-demic.’
Our self-identity should not be wrapped up in something which causes a fall away from Jesus Christ. I am not saying do not value it — just keep it in perspective. We fall further away, as did I for a moment, through doubt, fear, and placing something above God.
‘Suicidal grief’ occurs because we hold onto the shame, guilt, and depression instead of giving to Jesus.
This may seem counterintuitive, but such a job loss may be the best thing that ever happened! Your eternal destiny, and self-identity, should be inseparably attached to your creator — not an employer.
Yes — this means even if they claim to be ‘christian,’ as did mine. It is Jesus who positioned you to receive that job to begin with. Is it too hard for Him to reposition you for another purpose?
A Pastor Who Never Recovered
I once served with the Pastor who, through no fault of his own, was thrown out of a church. The loss devastated him.
Once, he even admitted to being depressed. It was hard for me to believe that such a great man of faith could get to that point.
Yes, Pastors do get depressed. As with anyone else, don’t be fooled my a pleasant demeanor and sunny disposition!
However, when I look at the biblical record, there were a few mighty warriors who had gotten to such a place. Two which come to mind are Elijah and Jeremiah. One of these men even asked God to kill him because what he was dealing with was too much.
While I would not suggest they had lost a job and were feeling suicidal, they were certainly in a place of deep depression.
However, the Pastor soldiered on, kept his faith, and God provided during his wilderness years. He received another Pastorate but because of his previous wounding, made terrible choices with the new congregation.
The result was he lost another Pastorate but this time he was at fault. Pastor never allowed his wounds to heal, and his depression was simply hidden away where no one except God could see.
Whatever your loss, please keep perspective and understand in one way or another, you will recover.
From Loss to God’s Ultimate Assignment
How did things turn out for me after my termination by the Denver Rescue Mission?
Just a few years later, having moved to another city, I found myself Pastoring a congregation! I initially believed the organization had thrown me out when the reality was God dragged me out.
Here is something I did not say.
I knew that after my supervisor had been disciplined for racially abusing me, and Black employees prior, I needed to leave. The spirit let me know yet I remained long after my ‘season’ was over.
Often, when we stay too long, God ‘drags us out’ (as He did Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah). Instead of leaving the mission with the peace of knowing I did what only I was supposed to, I remained.
I mean, the money was just too good.
Because I didn’t leave “on time” and with peace, God dragged me out causing pain! My pain was not from job loss at all rather ‘disobedience to God.’
If you are feeling depressed and suicidal after a job loss, whose fault was your termination (or layoff) really? Are you placing blame on others when the fault is your own (for staying too long anyway)?
OK — perhaps it wasn’t your fault, but did you stay long after your season was over?
Regardless of where fault lies, there is light on the other side. Do not seek a permanent solution to a temporary problem which is the very definition of ‘suicide.’
Most of all, isn’t it time for you to lay down your grief and depression at the cross of Jesus Christ?
Even now, in your current emotional state, Jesus loves you and is waiting to hear from you. What will you do?
Header Image Courtesy of Enrique Meseguer @ Pixabay