Separation & Divorce
The horrific challenges separation and divorce place on our team members cannot be accurately measured by any sensible productivity business productivity metrics. More than half of all of our associates will be faced with this potentially debilitating challenge during the course of their careers.
For some it will become a career killer. Divorce rips at the very fabric of the wonderful tapestry God has woven into the lives of not just our team members, but also into the lives and emotions of their children, parents, siblings, close friends, neighbors, and work associates.
Don’t be fooled. This is not a new issue. It is one Moses had to deal with at the dawn of civilization in the early days of the Old Testament, as well as one of the major topics about which first century leaders quizzed Jesus.
A study by the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri shows 50% of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. Again, an overwhelming number of our team members at work are going to be adversely affected by this devastating issue.
"50% of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce."
How does this affect your business? In a study produced by the Journal of Marriage and the Family, research on a national sample of men who had been married ten years or less estimated that the work loss associated with marital problems cost employers approximately $6.8 billion per year.
The statistics for divorce are equally high for Christians and non-Christians alike. Within the church, this is unfortunately one of those areas of pain where members are often shot on the battlefield, as they lay wounded by the ravages of this warlike ordeal. In many cases, they never return to the place that could have and should have been their sanctuary of healing and restoration.
So how can we truly help our team members dealing with such a crisis in their lives?
A great place to start is with four simple C’s
- 1. Crisis.
Recognize the level of crisis this causes in the life of your team member. Let them know you care and want to help. Say things like: “I’m truly sorry you are going through this.” “I will be here for you if you ever need to talk.” “I will pray for you as you go through this.”
- 2. Compassion.
Respond in the manner Jesus would. He stands ready to wrap His loving arms around them and comfort them in this time of crisis. Most people dealing with divorce have emotions such as fear, despair, denial, anger, depression and sleeplessness. Many feel as if they are walking around in a daze. Even though they have witnessed divorce with friends and family members, they never really thought it would happen to them.
- 3. Community.
Surround them with community. People dealing with divorce feel isolated and need to be nurtured. This community needs to be a safe place. One where well meaning people don’t say ignorant things like: “You are better off without him or her.” “Just stiffen up and get over it.” “Divorce happens all the time. You’ll find somebody else before you know it.” “What do you think you did to cause this?”
- 4. Christ.
Don’t hesitate to gently let them know that Jesus loves them even when it feels like everything else is falling apart around them. He can be there no matter what. He loved them so much; he was willing to die for them and will not reject them during this time of crisis.
Recognize your team members struggling with divorce will need to work through the five stages of grief associated with any great loss in their lives.
These stages include:
- 1. Denial.
An unwillingness to accept what is really happening.
- 2. Bargaining.
This often sounds like: “If I had only done a certain thing, then this would not have happened to me.” But bargaining can take on many different forms.
- 3. Anger.
There are going to be times when they are just mad and will lash out at people who have nothing to do with the problem.
- 4. Depression.
They will become depressed. Their level and severity of depression will vary based on the person. But whether it is simply a bad case of the blues or a full blown clinical case, it will happen
- 5. Acceptance.
Finally, they will reach a point of acceptance. How long this takes will vary, but a good rule of thumb is a minimum of one to two months for every year the relationship existed.
A great resource you can recommend for your team member struggling with divorce is through a wonderful Christian non-profit organization called DivorceCare. You can learn much about them at www.divorcecare.org. There are thousands of wonderful churches across America that facilitate DivorceCare groups. Go to the website and find a group option for your team member, and offer to go with him or her to the first meeting.
Untold volumes have been written on this subject, and this brief piece is by no means meant to cover the subject completely. My prayer is that God will bless you richly as you serve Him by offering genuine “Caring in the Workplace” to team members affected by divorce and separation.
By: Mark Cress
Mark Cress is the Founder of Corporate Chaplains of America. CCA (www.chaplain.org) is the nation’s leading provider of full time workplace chaplains to more than 800 public and private business locations across the US and internationally. He holds business and seminary degrees including a doctorate in Business Ethics and Leadership. He has authored seven books through Lanphier Press. Mark has a passion for Christian leadership matters within the emerging workplace ministry arena. He and his wife Linda have two grown daughters and reside in North Carolina.Read More Articles by Mark Cress