Last year, the average length of unemployment in the United States was about 25 weeks. During that time people who are unemployed can experience great anxiety, fear, depression, increased apathy towards working, and a number of other despondent feelings. Thoughts like, “There’s no way out of this,” or “I’ll never find a job like that again,” or “I have no idea how we’re going to make ends meet,” can bombard a person’s mind, resulting in a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.
One of the reasons for this Daily Teaching is to confront those types of feelings and set them against the backdrop of the unwavering truth: God is in control. For the Christian, everything is working together for their ultimate and eternal good (Rom. 8:28). Regardless, of whether or not our circumstances feel good in a given moment, the truth is our circumstances are an opportunity for God to glorify Himself through them and they are not evidence that He has left us to fend for ourselves.
What follows is some Gospel-centered advice for those who may find themselves employed:
1. Assess the situation (Looking Backward). Not everyone who is unemployed got to that point the same way. Some were laid off because a company had to downsize, others may have graduated from college and were not able to find employment, while someone else might have been fired for falling asleep on the job. Depending on what led to the point of unemployment, it would change a person’s immediate reaction. If there was some negligence or irresponsible behavior that led to job loss, repentance is a primary starting point. Upon recognizing, confessing, and apologizing for any wrongs that were done, a person can then begin looking ahead in faith to assess the situation looking forward.
2. Pray. James tells us, “You have not because you ask not” (Jas. 4:2b). If you’re looking for a job, continue to ask God for work. One of the best things that can happen during this season is that God uses this time of unemployment to rekindle your confidence in the fact that He answers prayer. The earnestness of your desire and need can be an impetus to nearer communion with Him. If your prayer life before this situation looked like leaving occasional voicemails for someone who you weren’t sure was going to call you back, maybe now you’ll more often bear the excitement and/or appreciation of someone who has been ushered into the presence of the King, allowed an audience with Him, and for however long you desire, you are able to bow and plead your case before the One who loves you and gave His Son for you.
3. Assess the Situation (In the Present). A few years back I saw a statistic that read, ’80 percent of Americans are discontent with their jobs – most have no consistent sense of fulfillment.’ If you were a part of that 80% before you lost your job, recognize the opportunity you now have in light of God’s providence. Perhaps, God will use this time to lead you towards a job doing something you enjoy more and find more fulfilling. During this season it’s good to ask yourself questions like: “What kind of job, or jobs, would I like to have?” Or, “do I have any skills, whereby I can begin offering a service to people even while I’m in between jobs?”
4. Let finding a job become your full-time job. One of the pitfalls of unemployment is that when a person loses the structure they’ve gotten used to, they can feel overwhelmed by the amount of free time they have. Feeling that way, and without a sense of direction, can be paralyzing. That’s why it’s important to immediately create a schedule. What should happen upon hearing the news of unemployment is that a person should immediately grab a note pad or a calendar or access an excel spreadsheet and begin creating a schedule. Interwoven throughout the schedule should be action steps that one can take in finding a job or seeking work, along with ways of using their time to serve others.
5. Serve in your local church/ fellowship with other Christians. A few years back the connection between the body of Christ and finding employment was illustrated before my eyes in a series of three ‘praise reports’ that happened in a relatively close period of time. One person went from doing something they didn’t enjoy so much, to working in a Christian school alongside another teacher. Though the days can be long and the demand can be great, so is the reward. In the two other cases, God used two people to help each person get their respective jobs. In one instance, two people helped drive someone to local businesses to see if they were hiring. The first three places said “no” but the fourth hired this individual on the spot. Imagine the excitement as they said to one another, “Wait a minute, they just gave you the job? Right now? Praise God!” And in the other case, one person spoke to another on behalf of the person that was unemployed. It turned out that the second person in the chain of assistance knew a local store manager and introduced the young man to her in the hopes that their business would give him a job. Well, the manager hired the person as a favor, and shortly thereafter, and for the duration of that person’s time there, they performed well and demonstrated that the decision to hire him was a good one.
If you will do these things with a mindset that realizes and embraces that the goal of your life is to glorify God, you can have confidence that you’re being a faithful steward of the time you’ve been given and the season that you are in. If you are Christ’s, remember, you are His and He is your Shepherd. He will lead you where He wants you to go. These steps may seem small, but even if they were, we remember the principle learned in Matthew 25, when the Master commends the faithful steward saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little, I will put you in charge of much more” (Mt 25:23).