Overcoming Employment Challenges

depressionHe’s too young to be retired, but his boss didn’t think so.  He saw the writing on the wall and knew that the golden parachute is better than no parachute.  Retired sounds much better than being fired, but it feels oddly the same.  He feels ashamed.  He avoids the neighbors and when he’s alone, he fights back tears. A flood of despair washes over him.  People he knows who have retired with no hope and no future have died or gotten dementia.  To him, retirement is a death sentence.

She pines for the day when she had grown-up interaction on a regular basis.  She remembers the bustle of the workplace and while co-workers weren’t always easy to get along with, at least they spoke well enough you could understand them…most of the time.  anxiousShe looks at the face of her baby and knows this child is a gift from God.  She hates herself for feeling resentful at what it means for her.   All day long with a baby who can’t tell you whether she’s hungry, tired, needs to have a diaper changed, and doesn’t say anything to mom in anything other than a cry.  It’s a thankless payless job called motherhood.  She thought she wanted to be a mother but some days, she just wants to go back to the validation of conversation and a paycheck.  Lots of her friends put their babies in day care and returned to work for that very reason.  She thought she wanted to stay at home, but the transition is really hard.  She’s getting depressed and hates herself for thinking thoughts of such ingratitude and selfishness.

They have been looking for work for a long time.  Little jobs arise here and there, but nothing better than part-time.  Certainly no benefits.  The bills are stacking up.  The rent is due.  They look at each other with tear-stained faces.  The early days of marriage weren’t supposed to be this way.  There were the expected adjustments, but they didn’t think one of them was seeing your spouse with suspicion as to why interviews constantly fall apart and jobs are nowhere to be found. Each of them wants to work, at least that’s what they tell each other.  Why can’t employers see that?  Is it a problem with employers…or the economy…or is it a problem with you?  So they silently analyze each other and wonder if they made an even bigger mistake.

Different as their scenarios are, all of these individuals have something profound in common: They are all suffering and are in need of overcoming employment challenges.  They do not need to remain in a place of lonely despair.  There is hope right around the corner!  Overcoming happens to those who–with sharpened tools of discernment–apply the Ten Commandments for Overcoming Suffering.

Irrespective of scenario, each person can see that suffering isn’t something odd, but rather it is to be expected, particularly for those with a Christian witness.  Brace yourself for the journey.  You can get through the suffering and be better for it.

We witness to others best when we show the world that we do not see ourselves as victims who are feeling sorry for ourselves.  Therefore, your suffering is not happening in a box in a vacuum.  Your suffering is one part of a larger world of possibilities.  You have choices you can make and possibilities that you can prayerfully embrace.  Victims have no choices, but you are not a victim because Jesus was not a victim.  Set your sights on God and know He will direct your steps in a whole world of possibilities.

We learn things at every stage of life: things about ourselves, things about God, and things about others.  This test has come so that you will learn.  In God’s Big Picture, your actions will be visible to others and their actions will be visible to others still.  It’s how witness works.  But it’s also how things work in a world that is both physical and spiritual.  We cannot ignore what happens in the spiritual realm because that’s where the greatest work is done.  I have suffered a few things in my life and it’s what has grown my faith.  (James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.)

Searching for answersPrayerfully, therefore, we press forward.  It helps to have a trail guide.  Having been down that path, Jesus knows the way through suffering and He’ll take you through if you’ll let Him show you the way.  You can’t see the spiritual realm at all—it’s like the wind.  You see its effects, but not in a predictive kind of way.  Jesus can lead you through.  Step into the Light.  He sees it all.

Tempting as it might be to turn angry on your boss, your child, your spouse, or your friends, co-workers or neighbors, it’s far better to put away anger and resentment.  Shelve comparisons.  It would be a waste of time plotting how to get even with someone who you think ruined your chances.  It’s not helpful to you to envy those whose lives seem so much better than yours.  A better use of time is to pray and read the Bible so that God can give you His weapons for fighting what is largely a spiritual fight.

Did you ever stop to think that depression is spiritual?  It is.

So is discouragement.  They are like poison daggers to the heart.

So we set aside the depression and discouragement.  We trust God.  The spiritual person is lovingly honest in dealings with God, self and others.  Honest with God about the pain we feel, but also honest enough to trust Him.  We patiently wait while God fights the spiritual battle for us.  We stand firm in our faith, not taking matters into our own hands in terms of fighting.  We let go of hurtful words that may have been spoken.  We let go of resentment of others.  We stop hating ourselves for how we’re feeling.  And we definitely do not take opportunities to zap others with nasty little jabs.  Sometimes, we can let people’s comments and actions float past.  The river of trust in God has a strong current and can wash insults far from us.  We aren’t victims of our circumstances.  We can let God deal with the people in our lives and we can focus on ways of being grateful. (Gratitude is a spiritual weapon unleashing the power of God–Jesus gave thanks before performing miracles.)

What miracle are you waiting for?  Maybe gratitude for what you already possess will unleash the miracle you need today.

Most often, the vindication we greatly desire will not happen until the final Judgment.  So we just press on and continue to do good.  This perseverance witnesses in the spiritual realm as well as to our friends and neighbors.  Having become a good witness, we are free to move forward.  It’s a pilgrimage and we press on because we have a God who is faithful.

But, hello?  I don’t have a job,” you shout!

I understand it feels that way–and IS that way in a practical sense because witness doesn’t pay the bills–but right now your job is to persevere.  This parenthesis of time is valuable for learning great spiritual lessons that will endure forever.  Now you’re in the perfect place for God to provide.  Do not lose hope.  God is faithful.

Apply The Kingdom Principles

So, back to our scenarios, for the man who is forced into retiring, there is a world of possibility for bringing his witness into a new workplace, into consulting, or into charity work where people with his great skills and time available can truly make an eternal difference–even for a season while he searches for another paying position.  Praying can help the man to know whether God’s provision will be more income and a lifelong learning of new skills in a different kind of work, or a time to charitably pay his already acquired skills forward to help people praying for more basic needs than another job after retirement.

For the woman who is the new mother, there is a world of possibility for bringing her witness into her baby’s life, her husband’s life, and during this season, growing through interaction with other new mothers.  By praying and studying God’s word, perhaps in a young women’s Bible study, she’ll get companionship and grownup conversation, and they’ll all grow in faith together.  Her baby will be fed from the start with the Word of God and with the Bread of Life and it will fill this short season of motherhood with every blessing and gratitude.  As those of us who are older mothers can testify, babies grow up fast, but mothering never ends, there’s always that bond.  And sure, there’s no validation of a paycheck for now, but one learns frugal living for today and the rewards for eternity will far exceed what can be earned here on earth.

One cannot put a price-tag on the work done in the spiritual realm.  But consider this: Your spiritual earnings will last far beyond the grave.  It has value beyond what we typically give it since our witness is the only thing we can bring with us to heaven.

For the young married couple who faces unemployment, there is a world of possibility for forming the strongest marriage bond through common adversity and opening a wider vista of employment.  Sometimes God moves us for the work He wants to do.  No matter how scary an unknown future may be, don’t let fear lash out as anger or hostility toward each other.  Hold tight.  When God created Adam and Eve, they had freedom of action to eat from every tree in the Garden, but also freedom of self-regulation to keep from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that God commanded against.  In a similar way, you are not restricted victims.  You are free to explore different locations and different job types.  In so many ways, the world is your oyster! Prayerfully submitting your self-imposed limits to God, you will discover that the same freedom once enjoyed by Adam and Eve is still available to us today in Jesus.

It’s been my experience that God is a master of coloring outside the lines I’ve drawn.

Are you having a hard time finding or keeping a job?  Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Am I a follower of Jesus Christ?  If not, this is the first To-Do item.  Be reconciled to God first and then you’re in a better position to pray about the rest.  If you don’t know where to start, click the Contact button on the top right and I will consider it my joy to talk with you about Jesus.
  2. Have I prayed about what kind of work God wants to do in and through me?
  3. Have I placed limits on work to just the physical world or am I also open to the spiritual work God wants to do by changing me?  Maybe He wants me to be an instrument of hope to others through my witness, to bring others along.
  4. Have I submitted my hopes about income to His desire to produce something of greater value?
  5. Have I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to me things that might be keeping me from getting and maintaining work?  Perhaps,
    • Wrong attitudes (victimhood, entitlement, superiority, anger, resentment, disrespect for authority, ingratitude, unwilling to be in a community of co-workers unless I’m leading them)
    • Wrong expectations about the value of my skills and experience (do I feel like I deserve this job because I’m special? Or deserve to be paid more because I want to be paid more?  Do I lack skills that I could gain in a different job that I refuse to do because I consider it beneath me?)
    • Wrong priorities (perhaps I want this job for its prestige or its pay even though it will bring on many sorrows and maybe even damage my spiritual life)
    • Wrong motives (I am looking to serve myself and enrich my own portfolio?  I am not concerned about providing value to the company.  I am looking to live the high life.  I have something to prove.  I actually want the job my co-worker has and this is a vehicle for me to get what I want.)
    • Wrong goal (I am looking to enrich myself and pile up material possessions but not looking to become a more godly person)
    • Wrong approach (What does my approach say?  Have I been industriously employed in prayer, in submitting to God, in preparing/sending résumés, in preparing for and attending interviews, and in presenting a godly appearance, filled with Christian virtues, to those interviewing me?)
    • Wrong timing (Have I been patient with the process as I press forward to Overcoming?  Do I want something now that is actually several steps ahead?)

Search Me O GodAcknowledge the pain, yes, but not as a victim.  Remain hopeful because God still provides.  We can each grow by learning how to be an Overcomer. 

For the person seeking employment, circumstances are hard to deny, but circumstances are no match for a person God desires to bless.  Here is a verse from Scripture for you to pray each day as you patiently search for work and trust in His faithfulness:

Psalm 139: 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Categories Articles, Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on September 17, 2013

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