While traveling across northern California several years ago, I tuned in a radio talk show where the host had just conducted a poll of his listeners regarding job satisfaction. Some sort of questionnaire had been mailed to folks within a broad radius of several cities along the San Francisco peninsula and East Bay region. The show’s host had gathered and compiled the answers and was, that day, announcing the results.
To his surprise (and mine) he discovered that well over 80 percent who responded were dissatisfied with their occupations, and when he tabulated the results by cities, some were as high as 84 percent. And the unhappiness he discovered in the workplace was not passive, meek, and mild. Some even responded with intense words like “despise . . . resent . . . dread.”
The average worker in the 1940s and 1950s was a male breadwinner with a wife and a houseful of kids to support. He worked full-time and long hours either in an office or a factory—mainly a factory since America was still an industrial society. He was a member of a union, motivated by job security and steady pay, and he looked forward to retirement at age sixty-five. His work was his world.
How things have changed!
Among other changes, today’s “average worker” does not belong to a union and would not consider joining one, plans to work past retirement age (many work well into their seventies), and is willing to accept a certain amount of insecurity in exchange for the possibility of being rewarded for superior performance. Maybe that explains why one-third of Americans switch jobs each year.
What’s true for the “average worker” in the workplace may also be true for the “average worshiper” in the churchplace, where things are also surprisingly different than in the 1940s and 1950s.
I wonder how many churchgoers, if polled, would be honest enough to admit that frustration mixed with mediocrity also abounds on Sunday. If they had a chance to say so, I wonder if some would respond with intense words like “despise . . . resent . . . dread.” And if they did, I wonder if many in the church would care enough to listen or to change.
Be honest now . . . would you?
Not all change is good, but not to change can be bad.