God Bless You, But You’re Fired

by Brad Harmon on June 29, 2010 in Entrepreneurs

God Bless You, But You're Fired | marketplace christianity

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

Unless you have a bit of a sadistic streak in you, telling an employee that their services are no longer needed is never quite as easy as Donald Trump makes it appear on his television show The Apprentice.

Who would have thought with all of his success in real estate development (and some monumental failures) that the phrase “You’re Fired” is what most of us now think when we hear his name.

Strip away the contestants, the audience, and the cameras.  Change the setting to your place of business, and add your employee sitting across the table looking into your eyes.   Even “The Donald” doesn’t relish in this very real event.

The Need to Fire Employees

While blog walking this weekend I stumbled upon a post by Phil Cooke at his blog, The Change Revolution.  In this post he makes the following observation.

In the Christian community, we all tend to be compassionate when it comes to firing people, and as a result, our churches, ministries, and religious media organizations are filled with people who are unqualified, unenthusiastic, and costing us money, time, and momentum.

Isn’t that so very true?  I doubt that it would take any of us very long to start listing all of the people with whom we have worked that fit this category.

It’s hard enough as an entrepreneur to muster the will to resolve these issues, but for many of us it becomes almost impossible to do when we couple our Christianity and the compassion of Christ to this necessary act.

Did You Hear Who Broke Up?

No, I’m not talking about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolee.  In his post, Phil reminds us of the break up of the great missionary team of Paul and Barnabas.

This was no small break up.  This missionary team was the dynamic duo of the early church.  They were like Billy Graham … times two.

The reason I am pointing this out is that you may miss how important of a team this was when you read Phil’s post.  This was a very bad break up which, as far as we can tell, led to Paul and Barnabas never reconciling.

This was all over Barnabas’s desire to be compassionate with regards to John Mark clashing with Paul seeing the need to “fire” him to make their ministry better.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

It’s a fascinating post and I like the conclusions he draws in it.  So, why are you sticking around here?

Go check out Phil Cooke’s post, The Need to Fire Employees.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

alphasmith June 30, 2010 at 12:32 am

My church is run by members voluntarily on the local and regional levels. No one is hired or fired (or paid), so it's never an issue at church. (Currently I'm a youth music director and my husband teaches Sunday School.)

But as employers, we have been in the position to let people go and its, to be honest, horrible. Sometimes it's not because they aren't performing, but because you simply can't afford to keep them on due to changes in projects, sales, etc. But sometimes the employee is really not qualified and is a huge financial (and often emotional) drain on a company. In those cases, the employee almost never see his/her own weaknesses and it's almost impossible not to lose friends in the process. No one takes kindly to being let go — even if necessary.


Brad Harmon June 30, 2010 at 4:15 am


Unfortunately, as a manager I have been put in this situation more than my fair share of times. I don't know if it ever gets easier. The worst ones for me were where I disagreed with the owner but still had to be the person to let the employee go. I guess they felt I became pretty good at it because I was often called upon to terminate employees for other managers.

I've always tried to make the situation as dignified as possible for the employee being terminated. If they reported to me then there was no surprise as we would have had several counseling sessions before then. If they reported to other managers then chances were high that my meeting with them was their first clue unless they had picked up on veiled references.

I think that terminating an employee usually reflects more upon the employer than the employee; of course, there are always those exception employees. I like how Phil touched upon that in his posting. As employers we need to make sure we are doing our job well starting with hiring then training and ultimately acclamation to our company's culture.

You're right about losing friends in the process. At the very least it seems to send a negative ripple throughout your company that can bounce around for weeks or months after the event.

Great comments as always. 🙂


Red Letter Believers June 30, 2010 at 9:03 am

I have had to fire a number of employees over the years – and every one of them were with great personal anguish. But just because I'm a Christian doesnt mean you can work for me and be a slug — we have standards!


Brad Harmon July 1, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I think there have only been a few that I have ever reached the point of anguish about. I have been blessed (or cursed) with an ability to separate my emotions from tasks like these in most occasions. You're correct. As Christians, we should be setting the highest of standards.

We have a responsibility as employers to relay those standards during the hiring process and to only hire those candidates that possess the necessary skills to reach those standards. We also need to be committed to training and supporting our employees to be able to maintain these standards.

Sadly, many entrepreneurs I have dealt with have done neither of these. It is in these situations that I have a hard time not feeling guilty when I have been tasked to let an employee go.


Red Letter Believers June 30, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I have had to fire plenty of people in my day…and it was never easy. But it was necessary.__I tried to take out emotions and just stick to the facts, and usually 'the truth set me free" and them!


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