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Is it “quiet quitting” or just setting boundaries?

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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 10/06/22

What's the Christian response to the viral trend of "quietly quitting" a job that's not great for you?

Have you heard of “quiet quitting”? It refers to no longer going far above and beyond at work, but merely meeting the basic requirements of one’s job description.

The idea spread virally on social media and is becoming incredibly common off-line. Gallup finds that “quiet quitters” make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce.

The divide over “quiet quitting” is totally generational, and I find it fascinating.

Recently I talked about the phenomenon of quiet quitting with some of my parents’ friends, and they were aghast. “Whatever happened to giving your all?” they asked. 

But the conversation was different with friends my own age. Many young adults feel stuck in dead-end jobs that lack potential for growth and where management takes their best efforts for granted. 

In these situations, “quiet quitting” doesn’t seem like such a bad thing at all. It seems like a necessary antidote to workaholism. It seems like a way to set reasonable boundaries and reclaim a healthy work-life balance

So what’s the Christian response to “quiet quitting”?

How can we know if it’s appropriate to our situation?

As Christians, we’re called both to give our best efforts to our work, and also to set aside time for true rest. 

The Catechism calls us to unite our work with Christ’s work of redemption:

Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him … By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. (2427)

St. John Bosco also reminds us that “Daily work, regularly and conscientiously performed, is a sure stepping stone to sanctity.”

At the same time, restful leisure is an important part of the rhythm of human life, and the Church urges us to protect this time. The Catechism says,

Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,” human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives. On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body … Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life. (2184-6)

Living out both dedicated work and thoughtful rest, we might find that quiet quitting is “slacking off,” or we might find it to be a necessary step to reclaim leisure in our unique situation. Prudence is required to discern.

Not sure if it’s the right choice for you? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

  • Have I fallen into a workaholism that has become unhealthy? 
  • Is stepping back at my job going to make things better for my family and relationships?
  • Will “quiet quitting” improve my work-life balance and protect my Sundays for the thoughtful leisure God calls me to?
  • Am I practicing prudent responsibility in my work as well as in my home life?
  • What am I hearing in prayer? Would “quiet quitting” bring peace, or is it a temptation to sloth?

Hopefully these questions will help you figure out if “quiet quitting” makes sense for your particular situation. 

And when in doubt, turn to prayer and to a trusted spiritual adviser. God so often makes things clear to us when we ask Him before the Blessed Sacrament!

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