For many Christians, being unemployed is just embarrassing. Suddenly, we find ourselves without a job. We are, perhaps without success, seeking employment. But we can't help asking ourselves, "What are people thinking about my being out of work? Do they think I'm lazy, no good, or just a freeloader?" No doubt, being without a job can be embarrassing even within our own families.
We all have heard of, or perhaps even met, people who have been described as "bums." We've all heard comments describing people who didn't work as "no-good, lazy, or leeches on society." Even back in the early days of television entertainment we've seen comedians like Red Skelton make fun of the unemployed by portraying characters like Freddy the Freeloader. The humor of that character demonstrates our society's tendency to look at anyone who is not working as a freeloader.
As Christians we may have told people we believe God will bless us and provide a job. But He hasn't… yet. In the Bible, Lamentations 3:14-18 expresses this very embarrassment and frustration. Although an Old Testament book, written centuries ago, these verses really describe the situation in which many of us find ourselves - embarrassed!
My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs.
He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink.
He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust.
Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
I cry out, "My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!"
The best counter to this embarrassment is taking six specific actions:
1. Tell people you appreciate your blessings.
After describing his trying situation, Jeremiah counts his blessings in Lamentations 3:21-26.
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!"
The LORD is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD.
There are always reasons to thank God even in the worst circumstances. God is pleased and people you come in contact with - even potential employers - will be impressed with your attitude.
2. Tell yourself this is a transition not a destination.
For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
You need to continually tell yourself that you are moving through that plan to the destination God has in mind for you. Then ask Him what He is transitioning you into: a new career or maybe into a ministry opportunity?
3. Prepare a specific answer to the question, "What are you looking for?"
You'll be asked that question by potential employers and friends alike. Be ready with a 30 to 45 second explanation of your background, skills, and goals. If you don't know, now is the time to think it through. A fuzzy answer raises questions about whether you are serious about your job search. And that is embarrassing.
4. Tell everyone you are looking for work.
I mean everyone. Don't hide the fact that you are searching for job opportunities. Not only does this communicate that you are serious about finding work, but it also might lead to an opening that you would otherwise never have known about. Most people want to be helpful. That help could lead to amazing things.
5. Show everyone your search tools.
Have a resume. If you don't know how to create one, get help. Once you have a professional
resume, carry copies everywhere. Carry a briefcase or notebook with copies so that you can show it to anyone who takes interest. This shows you are seriously looking for work and, again, could lead to opportunities.
6. Ask everyone for ideas, contacts, and leads.
We hear the term "networking" all the time. What it means is asking everyone you come in contact with if they know someone who has work or even knows someone who might know someone. Don't react negatively to dumb ideas. Just thank the source and keep moving. Over 70% of all job openings are not advertised through media. The only place to discover the jobs that are out there is through network contacts. Asking for names of contacts shows you are working at getting work. This isn't embarrassing and perhaps even inspiring.
Taking these six actions will demonstrate to everyone you are serious about your job search and convince yourself you have nothing to be embarrassed about. There are millions of people out of work. You'll just be moving on faster than many of them.
For more insights into God's path for the job seeker check out Unemployed: Life in the Wilderness - A Practical Guide to Living with Unemployment at http://www.lenmallen.com/.
Born and raised in South Dakota, Len Allen began college at South Dakota State University. He transferred to the University of Hawaii in Honolulu where he attended for 3 years majoring in commercial art and art history. In 1972 he graduated from Sioux Falls University back in his home state of South Dakota.
He returned to Hawaii where he began his career as a ditch-digger and met his wife, Beverly. Because of Bev's influence, Len went from ditch-digger to corporate Vice President within one and a half years and his career was off and running. They have lived and worked in Hawaii, California, South Dakota, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Texas and are now back in their old home of Chattanooga. They have been married 36 years and have one son.