Friday, April 22, 2005

Failing to see the trees for the forest

Practically every day, I hear some news report or other talking about how shaky the economy is. This has been true for at least the past four or five years now. Any positive turn is balanced out by some cautionary message that the future remains uncertain. OK, guys. Life is hard. I get it.

It's especially hard to "make ends meet" in the part of the country in which I live, where rent for a two-bedroom apartment under $1000 a month is considered a "great deal." Where I grew up in the midwest, rent that went for more than half that would be considered "high end." It's positively depressing. To make matters worse, working in a seminary is hardly a well-paying job. Between my wife's part-time salary (she's also taking classes) and my full-time one, it's still pretty much all we can do to keep from going further into the red.

It's not a matter of needing to "work harder." My wife's job is one of the most intense part-time jobs I've ever heard of. The amount of work that needs to be done should really be done by two or three people, or at least one full-time person with a part-time assistant. My wife is the only person in the entire organization that does what she does. And she's good at it. Very good. She's been complimented by some very influential people, not just within her organization, but also from people in the organizations they work with. But her organization (and mine) are in the same trap of so many groups these days. They don't have the resources to pay better, or to hire enough workers to do the jobs that need to be done. Benefits are being cut, and yearly raises can't even keep pace with the cost of living. People everywhere are working harder and harder, and seeing less and less benefit from it all.

Both my wife and I work for Christian organizations. While we both have always understood that such organizations often work with limited resources, and neither one of us went into these positions expecting to be "financial successes," we're finding ourselves increasingly stressed out and overtired at the end of each day, while still struggling just to pay the monthly bills. Our quality of life is suffering. We believe in what our employers seek to do, or we wouldn't be working for them, but this "good work" is happening increasingly on the backs of people who aren't able to give much more, and I foresee a crisis looming, as employees find they simply cannot continue under these circumstances, and seek work elsewhere. If organizations lose dedicated staff help, they will have to hire and train new people. This costs money, and besides the moral issue of treating workers this way, I'm convinced that our organizations will lose more resources by having to train new staff than they might have had simply by paying the existing workforce better and keeping their stress levels (i.e. workload) more managable. It is these dedicated staffworkers that make the lofty goals of our Christian organizations happen. Without them, these organizations themselves will suffer.

If this isn't a matter of "failing to see the trees for the forest" (to coin a phrase), I don't know what is.

1 comment:

  1. Uncanny how much this article resembles my life :)



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