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How Can Good Come Out of Job Loss?

Have you ever lost your job? I have. It feels horrible.

My story isn’t one of rejection. I didn’t get fired, so much as the job I had no longer existed. The company chose to cancel a conference it was running, and I was its director. Since my role was no longer necessary, I no longer had a job. I didn’t get fired—yet it hurt just as much as if I had been.

When you’re in that situation, it’s hard to see any light at the end of the dark tunnel. It feels like your world is crashing down around you. You find yourself asking thousands of questions, whether in your head or out loud. How will I pay my bills? What’s next? What did I do to deserve this? How could they? Why would God allow this to happen? Will anyone ever want to hire me again after this failure? If you keep a cool head, you might avoid yelling and throwing things, but the anger will probably still be there.

I experienced all of that. The questions. The anger. But I also experienced something different. I call it “the hidden option”. I experienced hope for greater possibilities even though I couldn’t see the hope clearly.

I’m convinced that God can take everything negative in our lives and do something creative with it. In Genesis, the story was told of Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers. When the tables turned and Joseph triumphed in spite of their actions, he said this to them: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen 50:20 ESV) God took their evil and turned it to good.

 The thing is, I believe God has already created the opportunities for beauty in our lives. It’s up to us to find them. God seems to encourage us to be active and diligent in our search of both Him and His answers—and He promises to respond. In Matthew 7:7 NLT, Jesus told us, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Could it be that God wants us to grow in our persistence and our dependence on him? Could it be that God has hidden possibilities in your life, and He wants you to keep digging for them?

When there seems to be nothing good in your job loss, I believe there are hidden options for what can come next.

I have a friend who had this experience when his world crashed down around him. He was a communications director at a large, internationally-known church. His pastor was caught in the middle of scandal, and it was his responsibility to defend both the church and his pastor. My friend did his best, but he experienced fiery arrows heading his way from every direction. News outlets even quoted him, skewing his words to further crucify the pastor and his church. It felt like a hopeless situation.

It got even worse when the pastor stepped down. The church dissolved, and my friend was left without a job. Not only that, he felt like he had a black mark on his name because of his involvement in the scandal. Who would want to work with a person caught in the middle of all that failure?

He candidly related his story to me over coffee one day, and I could tell he felt like that part of his life was a complete waste. He was doing his best to move past that situation and hoped to let that part of his life fade into obscurity.

I saw his pain, but I didn’t see that season of his life as a failure. In fact, I saw it as a stepping stone that God had prepared for him. He had first-hand experience of something that nearly every megachurch pastor fears. They all fear that one sound bite taken out of context. They fear the high-ranking leader in their church exposed for secret sin. That’s not something many pastors know how to even begin preparing for, which is where my friend enters the picture.

He saw his experience as something to sweep under the rug, but I saw it as something that could be used to help these churches. He could teach these pastors the things he did right and the things he did wrong. He could help them prepare for potential troubles and put plans in place for the worst-case scenario. Most churches value protecting their congregation from the media storm they’ve seen happen at other congregations, so it’s a service that would be in high demand.

As I shared my idea with him, I saw hope enter his eyes again. When I shed light on the hidden option, he became excited once again. When the world seemed to burst in flames around him, there was a brief clearing in the smoke that could suddenly help it all make sense again. The hope was there, he just needed some help to see it.

No matter the circumstance for your losing your job, I believe there is a hidden option out there for you. It’ll be hard to see it because of the emotions swirling around the situation. But if you’re willing to look for it, you can find it. Here are some ideas to help you find the hidden option when you can’t seem to find it.

  1. Ask God to show you the hidden options in this situation.
  2. Talk to someone who has been in your situation, has successfully navigated job loss or what seems like failure, and will encourage you. Ask them what they see for your life.
  3. Look for the thin glimmer of light, no matter how small, and move toward it.

Life isn’t over. Your ability to earn a living isn’t over. God can turn the situation around. I’ve seen Him do it in my life and in the life of my friends. I know He can do it for you too.

Landing in the Pig Pen Instead of My Dream Job

Written By Ellen Bargh, UK

As I walked into the farm yard in my pink-striped wellies and oversized farm gear, I was hopeful that this job would only be for a couple of weeks.

A friend and I had always joked about me going to work at his family farm in UK, my home country. It had always seemed ridiculous to me. I couldn’t work on a farm; I worked with people, not animals. I liked the comfort of being inside—not getting mucky and cold.

But here I was, working on a farm while waiting to fulfil my dream of living abroad. Over the past six years of studying in Canada, I had started to build my life there; I had friends and even my own apartment. When a job I had desired for a long time became vacant, it seemed like everything was coming together. The job involved working with students and doing administration. I loved the thrill of tasks and details as well as talking to people and helping them as they went through their years in college.

The week before I was due to fly back to the UK, I was interviewed for the position of Assistant to Dean of Students. All I needed was a visa to move to Canada to start my dream life.

But things didn’t work out as I wanted. Those couple of weeks on the farm turned into a couple of months, and my dream slowly slipped away. In the end, I did not qualify for the visa, and the job was filled by someone else.

Now, instead of my fun pink-striped wellies, I had proper green farm wellies. Reality had set in that I was going to be there for what seemed like the long haul. Instead of sitting in a nice lovely office, I was in a pig pen shovelling muck. Instead of listening to students talk excitedly about starting college, I was deafened by the squeals of piglets ringing constantly in my ears. This wasn’t what I dreamed my life would be after finishing my degree.

As I drove to work each day, often with tears streaming down my face, I would ask God why He had me working at a farm with pigs rather than with people who needed Jesus. What use was I in a pig pen? I wasn’t telling anyone about Jesus or working with children. How could this be what God wanted for me?

It was a daily battle to go to work and take my frustrations with the mundane to God. I wrestled with this for months. I was weary of what seemed like meaningless work. But the longer I stayed, the more honest I became with myself and God. God began to soften my heart and show me that He wanted me to talk to Him all day while I was working. He wanted me to love Him for Him—not because of what He does for me or because He could give me a better life.

I looked to the Bible for comfort, remembering that popular verse from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I started reading Jeremiah to find out more. I was shocked by the verses that came before verse 11. Jeremiah 29:5-7 says: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God had sent the Israelites into exile. And while they were there, they were to build a life and do good to the place they were in, even though they didn’t want to be there or thought they shouldn’t be there.

As I went over these verses in my mind, I began to see the good things God had put before me in the place I was in. I was working with a wonderful family, and I had an amazing church family where I was asked to be involved in youth and children’s work. Of course, my desire to work with people was still there. And though my desire to be in a different job didn’t fade, I gave what I had to where I was at.

Recently, I read an Our Daily Bread booklet on contentment where the writer Gary Inrig writes, “Contentment, then, is not about self-sufficiency but Christ-sufficiency. It is not resignation but satisfaction. It is not acceptance of the status quo or surrender of ambition but submission to Christ and His purposes. Godly contentment isn’t about complacency or passivity or an otherworldly detachment from life . . . It is a deep-seated satisfaction that is the gift of Christ.”

A good job was never going to give me the contentment I wanted. It was only by looking to Jesus that I could find contentment and peace. The more time I dug into the things God gave me in the place I was at, I realised it was Him that I needed, and not a job.

Here’s three things that helped me to be content:

 

1. Give thanks

Give thanks daily for specific things God has given us each day—not just in the good times but all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we thank God, we focus on the good things, and soon envy and discontentment fade.

2. Give what you have in every situation

Even if we aren’t where we want to be, we can seek the good of the people or place we are in. Rather than tell ourselves we just need to get through this period of time till God takes us to the next thing, we can give ourselves fully to people or tasks during the time we are in “exile” (Jeremiah 29:5-6).

 

3. Seek godly characteristics rather than possessions or status

If we are always focusing on what is next—the next job, the next relationship or the next house—we aren’t focusing on becoming more like Christ. It doesn’t matter where we are, God’s will for us is to be like Jesus.

5 Ways to Deal With A Difficult Boss

Written By Amanda Lim, Singapore 

If you’ve clicked on this article because you have an impossible-to-please boss, my heart goes out to you. Truly. I know from personal experience the grief and emotional stress he or she can cause is no laughing matter, and may well plague you beyond your office hours and even waking moments.

If you need a mental picture of what my ex-boss is like, think of a fussy, demanding, insecure, and manipulative micro-manager. I know of ex-colleagues who have suffered from headaches, insomnia, and heart palpitation (just to name a few) as a result of working with her.

For me, it came in the form of a temporary memory blackout. I can still remember the incident vividly. My boss was upset with me that day and had sent a string of emails finding fault with—among other things—my grammar, punctuation, and speed of email replies. Emotionally drained and physically exhausted, I had left the office feeling like the most useless person on the planet.

Just when I thought I had the night to recuperate, I received a text message from her asking if I had checked some data. My blood froze as I realized I had not. In my panicked state, I realized I couldn’t recall the passcode to unlock my phone—despite having just used it a couple of minutes earlier.

Long story short, the four digits eventually did come to mind and I got into trouble the next day for not being on top of things (as I couldn’t recall the data she wanted). For the next couple of months, my boss continued to alternately criticize my work and give me the cold shoulder, regardless of what I did to try to appease her. Things took a turn for the better only when new colleagues joined the team and her attention shifted to new targets.

As I reflect on those six terrible months under this boss, here are some lessons I’ve learned. If you’re in a similar situation at the moment, I hope some of it can provide some encouragement and help.

 

1: Talk to your boss about it.

As far as possible, give your boss the benefit of doubt, especially if either one of you is new or things between the both of you weren’t this way before. Perhaps your boss is going through a rough time and is not aware of how his attitude is affecting the staff and work. Or maybe it could be due to a miscommunication or a mismatch of expectations.

Doing this, I believe, is one way to show respect and reverence for our bosses (1 Peter 2:17). When things started getting challenging at work, I remember having numerous sessions with my boss where I tried to articulate how I felt as well as see things from her perspective.

That said, this may not always change things, especially if your boss is not one to take feedback well or could never see himself as the problem—which brings me to my next point.

 

2: Realize that you can’t always “manage” your boss

Countless self-help articles will tell you that the trick is to manage your boss better. Find out what triggers your boss and make sure you don’t step on his or her toes. This advice may help turn the situation around in some instances. But if your boss is irrational, it’s not so clear-cut.

Before joining my department, I had heard about my boss’s reputation. My predecessor even pleaded with me not to take up the offer to work in the department, but I wasn’t convinced; I sincerely believed I could “change” my boss as long as I did my work well and proved my worth. And that seemed to be the case for the first six months, when I relished being one of her favorites in the team.

But after all her original targets quit, that’s when the tables turned. Though nothing had changed from my perspective, everything changed. Things I did that never used to bother her suddenly became heinous crimes, and not a day would go by without me apologizing profusely to her for something that I had done—or not done.

I lost the joy of work and dreaded going to office every morning. I beat myself up over the smallest mistakes and started to doubt myself and lose confidence in my work. When I realized there was nothing I could do within my power to turn my situation around, I turned to God.

 

3: Remember who’s really in control – God

I remember nights where I would curl up in bed, writing down my prayers and crying out to God to help me to do my work for Him and not for the approval of my boss (Col 3:23-24).

During one of those down moments, I wrote this in my journal:

“Lord, for the first time, I’m actually dreading going back to work. I didn’t think this would be a problem I would face, but since my boss’s recent comments about my work, I’ve been affected and I just dread the thought of receiving emails from her about the same issues again. God, you’ve taught me since young to trust you, honor you above all else, work heartily for you and not men – I pray that you will help me to let go of whatever bitterness and unhappiness I have towards her and just focus on you.”

Within just one week of penning that entry, God changed my perspective in the most unexpected way—a family tragedy struck and I had to be out of office for a few weeks. It snapped me out of my state of self-pity and helped to put everything in perspective. Suddenly, my boss’ approval didn’t seem that important anymore. Being recognized and affirmed for my abilities was also no longer something I craved for and fretted about.

All this time, I had been so self-absorbed in my own woes that I had lost sight of who was really in charge. I was reminded that God was my creator and provider. Just as He could give life and take it away, He could give me my boss and take her away as well—which He eventually did.

 

4: Find like-minded colleagues or friends who can support you.

But before that happened, God didn’t leave me in the lurch. I thank God for fellow Christian colleagues and churchmates who counselled me and reminded me of God’s sovereignty and love throughout this time, some of whom have become my closest friends as a result.

Don’t bottle up all your frustrations and grievances and suffer in silence. Find a mature and caring friend who can pray for you and counsel you; God has given us brothers and sisters in Christ who love us and will journey with us through difficult times (Proverbs 17:17). In time, you may be the one to provide support and counsel to another fellow believer in a similar situation.

 

5: Don’t gossip.

As you find a group of friends to support you on this journey, one of the biggest temptations is to turn the sharing of prayer requests into a gossiping session about your boss. I am guilty of this on so many occasions. The more wide-eyed stares and looks of disbelief I got from sharing about my boss, the more emboldened I became in my sharing. Soon, I found myself telling the same story to other friends that I would meet—sometimes adding in a few more details.

As I continued to meet up with ex-colleagues who had also suffered under her ill-treatment and we exchanged stories about her “abuse”, I found my description of my boss turning from bad to worse; in my mind, she had become a hideous monster, devoid of any hope.

But every time I came back from those gatherings, God would convict me of my poor testimony for Christ to both believers and non-believers. And over and over again, I would end up confessing my sin and asking God to forgive me for badmouthing her (Psalm 34:13).

This is one lesson I’m still learning today.

 
Today, I work for a boss who is the complete opposite. Aside from being a big-picture thinker, he’s patient, understanding, and gives each one of us room for trial and error. Had I not had the experience of working with my previous boss, I probably wouldn’t have realized how blessed I am to be working under my current boss.

My prayer is that you, too, will one day be able to look back on this episode and praise God for seeing you through.

God’s Unexpected Plan in My Failed Job-Hunt

Written By Aryanto Wijaya, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

I have dreamed of becoming a journalist since entering college. My love for writing and travelling were my primary reasons for choosing the journalism course.

But as graduation drew near, I was torn between two choices: passion or salary? It was a tough decision, especially since the salary of a journalist in the city of Yogyakarta was average. After some thought, I chose the latter. To get a job with a high salary, I would have to work at a big company, I thought to myself.

In the first week after my thesis defence, I went to a job fair in the nearby city of Surakarta. Loaded with 30 copies of my resume, I rode my motorcycle from Yogyakarta in high spirits. But my optimism faded when I realized that none of the jobs offered interested me. Most of the companies at the job fair only offered marketing positions.

I wasn’t going to give up yet. I joined a LINE chat group that consisted of hundreds of job-seekers; we got updates of job offers and job fairs every single day. Still, nothing piqued my interest.  A week after the first job fair, I went to another one. There were two national-scale companies that interested me this time. I sent my resume to both companies, hoping to pass the initial rounds of selection.

The first one was a cigarette company. Even though it was a large company, I was hesitant about working there because I did not smoke. But I went ahead to try for the job. Though I passed the initial administrative phase, I failed the next day during the personality test. Among 300 candidates, only 75 passed the personality test.

Still, I was not discouraged. I prepared myself for another personality test with the second company. But again, I failed. As some of my friends who had come along with me also failed, I was not overly disappointed.

When the job fairs didn’t work out, I also tried applying for jobs online. Though I applied to five different companies, none of them got back to me.

 

Reconsidering my reason and purpose

Truth be told, these failures did not really disappoint me. Instead, they got me thinking hard about my reason and purpose for working. Do I just work for money? Is it pride that makes me look for big companies? Don’t I want to develop all the journalism skills and knowledge that I acquired in college in my work?

Some weeks later, I saw a job posting for an editor of a website managed by a non-profit organization in Jakarta. I was interested because even though the position offered was not my dream job, it was still closely related to journalism. But I was a little hesitant because I was still hoping I could work in a big company that would give me a high salary. So, I applied to another famous company—even though the position that I applied for was not related to journalism. At the back of my mind, I really hoped that I would be accepted to work there.

But the thought of applying to the non-profit organization lingered in my mind. So I decided to take some time off to order my thoughts and visit a friend who lived a bit further out. I prayed, asking God to give me a clue about what should I do. Every time I prayed, my heart pushed me to apply for the position of editor in that non-profit organization. I asked my friend, and he told me to do it, since I had nothing to lose anyway.

Eventually, I applied to the non-profit organization and went through the recruitment process. A week later, I received two e-mails on the same day. To my surprise, both the famous company and the non-profit organization wanted me to go to Jakarta the next day for a follow-up interview.

Just a few months earlier, I had been worried that I would not get a job. Suddenly, I had two interviews and I was confused because I was going to have to pick one out of the two choices. Afraid of making a wrong decision, I prayed again and again, and also asked my friends for advice. Eventually, I decided that I would pick whoever accepted me first—as long as the salary was high enough to cover my necessary expenses.

I went to Jakarta the next morning. After the interview, the non-profit organization offered me the position of web editor and I accepted the job offer—just as I had decided on the previous day. I then sent an e-mail to the other company to cancel the interview and apologize.

 

Rejoicing in my role as an editor

After I accepted the job offer as an editor, I stopped looking for other jobs. I also left the LINE group chat. As the reality of starting work set in, I began to feel afraid. Would I be able to adjust to my new environment? Would I be able to do well in my job? But I remembered the verse, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34b). I prayed that day after day, I would grow in my obedience to God.

The first month of working as an editor was challenging. Besides adapting to a new environment, I also needed to learn from scratch all that I knew about editing. The knowledge that I had acquired from college was not enough to help me fulfil all the aspects of my job which comprised editing, writing and networking with contributors.

As an editor, I receive articles by contributors from various parts of Indonesia every day. Each article is unique. Some are about the writer’s opinions, and others are about their life experiences. Among the many writers, a few stood out. There was one who went through many accidents in life, but never gave up and was still able to say that God was good. There was another who shared the heart-breaking story of how her relationship ended without any clear reason. There was even a 71-year-old woman who shared her testimony about her physical condition and blurred vision.

Reading these articles brought me a lot of joy and motivation and convinced me that God is the one who prepared this job for me. It has been seven months since I first started my job and I really enjoy the experience so far.

I used to think that an ideal job was a job that paid well. I thought that a high salary could give me happiness because I could then buy anything I wanted and travel to new places that I haven’t visited. But my current job as an editor has changed my perspective.

With my current salary, I can meet my daily needs, support my parents’ life, and travel around Java Island. I am also able to save some of my money. But more than just working to earn money, I work so that I can glorify God, just as Paul said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3: 23).

As a recent graduate, I still have hopes to continue my studies one day, but I believe that my current task is to give my all for God through this job. When I place God above all else in my life, I believe that He will provide for all my needs. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

Are you struggling to find a job? Don’t give up and keep praying. Surrender all your worries to God and let Him work in your life so that one day, looking back on your life experiences, you can see His wonderful plan for your life.

“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42: 2).