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A company downsizing can be a humbling experience for everyone – for those losing their jobs and for those in leadership with no other way forward. For all the employees, there will be a mix of reactions. Downsizing can be a humiliating experience…unless we allow it to be simply humbling.
God sees downsizing differently than we may, when going through one. In the Bible, there’s a fascinating account (Judges 6-7) of His gathering an army to fight the Midianites, enemies of Israel. He worked through the leadership of a man named Gideon who, early on, wasn’t at all sure of himself leading such an operation. As Gideon sought direction from God, he was able to rally an army of 32,000 men.
God wanted Gideon to see His own glory in fighting for His people. This army of 1000s was too big. Through a couple of strategic downsizings, Gideon was left with an army of 300 and a God who would lead them in battle for His name’s sake. They would see the Midianites trounced in such a curious way that only God could have brought about their defeat.
In the story above, Gideon must have felt satisfied…even proud…at the size of the army he was preparing to lead. The timidity he originally felt melted away with the men who volunteered to fight for him. He was ready to go up against the Midianites.
God had another plan.
He brought the number of soldiers down to such a low count that Gideon no longer had cause to be proud of the possibilities of victory. He was humbled by God’s actions, and he became all the more able to lead, as He followed every detail of God’s strategy.
Humility is having a right, or true, understanding of who God is, and who we are in relationship to Him and each other.
When we are humbled, either by a downsizing in our jobs, or a hit to our status, position, or reputation, we can take heart, in what God can do in that. When He works to move each of us to a such challenging place, we discover the contents of our own hearts. We discover the pride…or whatever else has lodged itself against Him (fear, entitlement, bitterness). Then we either choose to rail against our situation or decide to trust Him with the outcome.
We have an example of that in the humble obedience of Christ:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. – Philippians 2:5-9
In a company downsizing, or any other hard place, our temptation may tend toward pride and entitlement. As we allow God to humble us through that hard place, then He will raise us up, as He did Gideon, in victory. It’s in trusting Him that we’ll find that victory.
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