Jesus Christ developed my resilience, allowing me to remain an ethical professional who puts my students’ first. Jesus Christ built my resilience by telling me who I am, who I work for, what my responsibility is to other people, and giving me a support group.
I currently work in an office with other MSWs. For most of my career, though, I’ve been the only social worker on site, working with colleagues who don’t understand social work. Laypersons sometimes believe social workers are able to fix any and all problems quickly, are able to change negative and longstanding behaviors overnight, and have unlimited availability and tolerance. Whenever I fell short in any of these areas, both my clients and colleagues would become critical, in ways both obvious and subtle, undermining my professional self-confidence and making a difficult job burdensome. When I remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), those burdens lift.
God made me, and promises to ease my burdens (Matthew 11:28-30; John 6:29). When facing an impossible deadline at work, I’ve often told God that He had to help me get the work done, and He did. One day, I gained the ability to decide to be peaceful, after considering what God has done for me. I was able to say to myself, “Why get all anxious when you know that at the end of the day, God will have the paperwork in on time?”
When people make unreasonable demands, I remember that ultimately, I work for God. I work for His approval & glory, which motivates me to maintain a standard of excellence despite the challenges. In all situations I can take my anger, doubt, needs, fear, and anxiety all to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6), which protects me from the consequences of gossip and negativity. Having a God that will reward me for my work & settle disputes on my behalf allows me to live in the present, do my work – and enjoy it (Colossians 3:17 and Ecclesiastes 9:7-10).
When I’m too upset to keep the conversation just between me and Jesus, He’s given me a safe space to tell my side of the story – the church. Not the whole church, but the intimate group of friends that I’ve been with in Bible Study and prayer over the years. They’ve rejoiced and cried with me as I’ve gone through my ups and downs at work. Thank God, right now my work life is on the upside.
Both Marilyn Lammert and Christena Cleveland, social worker & social psychologist, respectively, wrote articles that I believe are related to resiliency (see the links below). Marilyn writes from a secular perspective, and Christina takes a Christian viewpoint. Both mention the value of community. Although it might be natural to want to isolate during stressful times, it’s not always the best idea.
Rhonda E. Harrison has been a social worker for 16 years and a member of NACSW for 16 years. Rhonda is also an Advisor, Educator and Abolitionist who writes a personal blog, “If I Knew then What I Know Now.”