42 - Thoughts for an Unemployed Friend
|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Wednesday, December 10 2008 09:59|
Dear John . . .
Thanks for sharing your struggle to find a new career. Finding a new position that really satisfies isn't easy. The search can create many anxious moments.
I'm praying God will bless you with an occupation you can love - one that will make you feel like Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire who said to his sister, "When I run I feel God's pleasure."
Of course, there's an urgency. There are bills to pay, a wife to keep happy, and kids to feed. What I would like to do, though, is ask you to set aside the urgency for a moment. Here are a few "big picture" thoughts to consider.
I've watched you over the years, John. Whoever gets you gets a good man. You're a hard worker. They will be blessed. What I want to encourage you to consider, however, is a job that allows you to lead a more balanced life.
You've always zoomed around at the speed of light. You told me, though, that you wanted more time to spend with the Lord, your wife, and your children. What I'm suggesting is finding a position that would allow you to, say, re-read and meditate on sentences in the Bible rather than racing off to an early appointment. Or knock off early to watch your son's game.
When someone asks me the question, "How are you doing?" I hope to be able to say, "Busy and balanced." To be busy is good. To be busy and balanced is better. Just a thought, but, as your friend, I think you could use a little more balance. Why not use this as an opportunity to make it happen?
You mentioned on the phone that it's been hard for you to discern what God may be saying to you. If I remember correctly, you said, "I don't want to miss God's will. I don't trust myself." But how do you do that? Here are a few suggestions.
A SENSE OF MISSION AND CALLING
Remember that every vocation is holy to the Lord. Look for a job that gives you a sense of mission - a sense that you are part of something that will leave the world a better place. If it's driving a delivery truck, then know you are part of an international system of moving products to improve the quality of life for millions of people. Your company enables families to have dignity, earn a respectable income, provide for health care benefits, and meet social needs.
To make your work more than "just a job" means to bring the right attitude to your work. Don't go looking for a mere job, but a position that helps you fulfill God's calling on your life.
HOW YOU ARE WIRED
Here are three sets of words that can help you "zero in" on what types of occupations will motivate and stimulate you. For each of the three sets, circle the one word with which you most identify. Make a snap decision here. Don't analyze it. Go with your first impulse.
1. Visionary Planner Executer
How are you wired? What does that tell you about yourself, and about the types of positions that would satisfy you long term?
Here are some practical questions to help you select the right position.
1. What are your social needs? We each have an appetite for a certain level of social interaction. You may love people but find too much social interaction tiring. In that case, you would want a position that gives you some space.
2. What are your health/stress needs? Some people thrive in high pressure jobs. Most don't. If in your first look at a job you see clues that it involves a lot of stress, guess what? It will be more stressful a month later. Look for a 21st century employer who doesn't want to "own" you. Look for one who will honor you as a human being and help you lead a balanced life.
3. What is your long term vocational goal? You may find that you are not qualified to do what you really want to do. In that case, you may need additional training/education. If so, don't take a position that won't let you get it. If you have a goal that requires capital or heavy experience - say owning a business or teaching at a college - then you may have to take it in stages. Apply long term thinking in a short term world.
There is one question that deserves a look. Assuming time and money were no object, what would you do if you could do anything you wanted? Now, ask yourself: Is it really such a wild idea? What adjustments would you have to make? Would they be worth it? What does your wife think? Will there ever be a better time? Probably not. Instead of asking, "Why?" ask "Why not?"
Whenever a godly man changes his work, invariably the thought goes through his mind, "I wonder if I should go into ministry?" The technical answer is that every job is ministry. Your ministry is to build the kingdom and tend the culture. That includes not only spiritual enterprises, but "in the world" vocations. Some may be called, but for most it is a wistful, fleeting thought. Unless you can't be happy unless you are in ministry, it's probably an interesting idea but not a calling.
MORE DANIELS IN BABYLON
Here's a better idea, anyway. What the world needs now are more "Daniels in Babylon." Daniel was a high ranking official in a secular nation. He represented God there. Faithfully. And God protected him.
In many ways the church of Christ today is in a type of Babylonian captivity. Like the Jews in Babylon, we have a great deal of freedom. Like Daniel, many Christians have ranking positions. Yet, we need more men like Daniel who would be willing to go "into the world" and represent God there faithfully. Consider how Jesus prayed for us (notice in the last verse that his comments apply to us today)…
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still "in the world"… My prayer is not that you take them "out of the world" but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not "of the world," even as I am not of it…As you sent me into the world, I have sent them "into the world"…My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message (John 17:11, 15, 16, 18, 20, quotations added).
God calls us to be "in but not of" the world, yet sends us "into" the world. Perhaps God would have you be like a Daniel in Babylon. It might be best for you and the kingdom to take a position in a company where you could faithfully represent God "in the world." Your calling could be to become part of a "lonely team" - working in a company where you feel professionally connected but spiritually isolated. Could God be calling you to serve on a lonely team?
John, I hope this has been helpful. Here are the questions I've raised in this letter. Why not spend a few minutes thinking them through?
Should you use this time of change to bring more balance into your life?