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).

What If I’m Not Sure What to Do With My Life?

Written By Sam Ly, Singapore

“What is your advice to people who do not know what they want to do with their lives yet?”

I was recently asked this question by a polytechnic student at my alma mater when I was there to share about getting into law school and studying law. My reply in short was this: It’s okay if you’re still not sure, don’t be afraid of uncertainty.

Let me explain.

In Singapore, one has to make the decision about what course to study either at the age of 17 (for those applying to polytechnic or the Institute of Technical Education) or 19, for those going to university. At this stage of our lives, most of us may not be entirely sure about what we like to do, or want to work as in the future. While we may pray and ask the Lord to tell us clearly what we ought to do with our lives, God doesn’t always give us a clear “calling”.

Was I crystal clear that it was God’s will for me to pursue a diploma in law? Certainly not at the beginning. Law was recommended to me on the simple basis that I was always a strong advocate of right and wrong. As I continued to grow in my relationship with the Lord and through my studies, God showed me—through conversations with other believers and my internship experiences—that I was suited for this area of work, and that my knowledge of the law could indeed be used for His kingdom. That’s when I continued to pursue a degree in law as well.

Am I now crystal clear that it is God’s will for me to become a lawyer? Certainly not either. While I know that I want to serve in the field of law, and have been working hard to ensure that my understanding of the law will be useful for His Kingdom work, I do not have full assurance that God wants me to become a lawyer for the rest of my working life. There are many things beyond my foresight and control which may lead me to reconsider the very question I started this article with: what am I to do with my life?

So, what am I actually clear about? Did I bring you around in circles just to tell you that we can never have clarity about how to live our lives?

No, certainly not. There is one thing I am crystal clear about and it’s this: my life ought to be spent in full seeking God’s kingdom first and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). While I may not be so sure about my “what”, I am sure about my “why”.

The world operates on a system that convinces us that our identity rests in what we do as a lawyer, an athlete, a pastor, etc. But I believe the true answer can be found if we are clear about who Jesus is and who we are. When Christ forms the core of our identity, we have the greatest reassurance of who we are and why we walk this earth. Our identity lies in being God’s children, and not in what we do.

To clarify, I am not advocating a nonchalant and lazy approach of merely waiting for opportunities and “signs” to drop from heaven. To a large extent, we still have to seek opportunities and put ourselves in places where we can understand more about ourselves. What I’m saying is this: the fear of not knowing what to do with our lives need not cripple us. In fact, our scramble to have everything in complete order may come from a heart that is seeking to wrestle with God for absolute control over our lives. That mad dash for grades, internships and other things in our “to-do” list may suggest that our actions are motivated by fears and desires instead of whole-hearted trust in God (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I may not be crystal clear about what I will do or how I will do it, but I am crystal clear about why I will do whatever God calls me to do. As long as I’m seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, I know that all these things shall be given to me (Matthew 6:33). So, fellow believers, may I encourage you not to fear seasons of uncertainty, for we surrender our lives (and our future) into the safe and trustworthy hands of God.

Burned Out And Guilty At Work

Written By Katarina Tathya Ratri, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

In March 2017, I had a burnout.

It came five months after I moved from my hometown in Central Java to the capital city of Jakarta to work as an area manager in a food and beverage company. As a manager, I’m in charge of overseeing some outlets and ensuring that their quality, service, cleanliness, and sales meet the company’s standards. This also includes telling staff who don’t do their job well enough to pull up their socks.

Initially, I didn’t think it would be so difficult to adapt to my new surroundings. Reality, however, couldn’t have been more different. Many situations at work made me cry, and I found myself finishing work late every night and even having to work on vacations. Pointing out my subordinates’ mistakes was also extremely difficult, as most of them had been working in the company for a lot longer than I had. Many were also older than me, and spoke to me rudely.

When I told my best friends and my boyfriend about my problems, they tried to cheer me up—but it didn’t really help. I ended up trying my best to “ignore” work and not finish my tasks, even though this made me feel guilty.

One Sunday at church, I listened to a sermon on God’s appointment of Joshua to succeed Moses. He said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). When I read this verse, I was reminded of my own struggles at work and encouraged to face my problems bravely.

However, when Monday rolled around the corner and reminded me about the reality of work, I felt afraid again, and began to come up with ideas about how to avoid my responsibilities. I asked God for His forgiveness for doubting Him, but the process just kept repeating itself every day.

One night, I came down with a high fever and didn’t even have strength to go to the doctor on my own. I called my boyfriend, and he flew from Bandung to Jakarta to take me to a clinic. When the doctor told me that my illness was due to the stress I faced at work, I nodded in agreement.

That was when my boyfriend and I decided that we should take a break from work and go on a trip around Jakarta. During the trip however, my boyfriend’s wallet got stolen while we were taking a bus. The guilt of having caused this indirectly, mixed with sadness and anger, made me cry.

To my amazement, I saw that my boyfriend was still smiling. He told me that he believed everything would work together for good, even though the situation seemed bad. Upon hearing this, I felt ashamed. Over the rest of the trip, I reflected and realized that I had never really surrendered myself fully to God’s plan.

Since that time, I have changed the way I respond to my situation. Whenever I am troubled by work, I try to remember what made me initially decide to take up this job—to hone my skills as a leader. At the time, I knew that this job wouldn’t be easy, and that it entailed leading people who were older and more experienced than me. I found 1 Timothy 4:12 inspiring: “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

This verse has strengthened me and given me the courage to do this job. I know that through this job, God is shaping me according to His will. He has helped me to learn how to remain humble amid challenges and to learn from the difficulties that I face, such as trying to meet my supervisor’s tough demands.

God has also given me many second chances. As I recall how I used to respond to my problems—simply ignoring my tasks—I realize that I deserved to be punished or even fired. Yet God never left me when I was down, nor when I made mistakes. Instead, He helped me and gave me the strength to carry on. All I need to do is to keep learning to lean on and surrender to Him fully.

Now, whenever I start work, I always make time to pray first. I used to ask God to spare me and take away all my struggles and challenges, but now, I have learned to ask God for the mental and spiritual strength to go through each day. I want to be able to smile and experience the joy of the Lord even when others treat me badly.

I have also learned to be patient when I face problems or difficult people. With people at work, I try to stay joyful and have a deeper conversation with them. Even though I know that there will always be people who will not fully accept me as a leader, I am encouraged by those who are slowly starting to open up to me. God has changed me—from a person who used to give up easily and run away from others’ negative responses, to someone who would approach those who are hostile to me and even talk to them about things relating to their personal lives.

When My Hard Work Amounted to Nothing

I know people who are avid fans of Japanese author Haruki Murakami—his most notable books include Norwegian Wood and 1Q84. But while I don’t understand the extent of their fanaticism, I do see why Murakami’s works are so well-received: he captures the essence of a person’s meaningless drift through life brilliantly.

After all, most of us go through times where we find ourselves thinking of life as a meaningless journey. This could happen when we’re doing or learning something that seems impossible to master, doing work that doesn’t seem to impact anyone, or trying to keep up with difficult friendships and relationships.

If you’ve ever been on an internship, you might identify with the story I’m about to share. Unlike my friends who went through school scouting for internships every summer, I—being the passive person I was—did not. So when a good opportunity in an advertising agency came up when I was in my third year, I decided to take a semester off school and dived into my first working experience.

I remember loving the first month of it. I loved the creative and flexible nature of the work, and the influence, beauty, and wit that a great advertising campaign could have. I loved the fast-paced environment and culture—the fact that people could be themselves unashamedly. I loved my fellow intern, who became a good friend in a matter of days, thanks to hours of talking and working together. I even loved my supervisor, which is probably not a very common thing.

But then there was pitch season, when companies choose the advertising agency they want to work with. It was then that a big part of me died. Advertising pitches in my country work like this: you come up with an entire advertising campaign for a company’s consideration. If they like it, they hire you to do their advertising and give you the money you need to survive another year. If they don’t, you’re forced to ignore the weeks of hard work and sleepless nights you’ve had to endure, and then pretend you’re okay with about 400 hours of good, creative work being dragged into the tiny trash icon on your computer (which most people, obviously, aren’t okay with).

We came into the office daily, only to see our ideas on post-it pads dumped into a bin, our writing deleted, our art trashed, and our hours wasted at the end of each day. I remember a time when my friend and I would come up with (what we thought were) good ideas for the campaign, only to find them all placed on the “unrealistic” and “ineffective” quadrant of an evaluation chart—or in other words, the “bin”.

I felt like a hamster running on an endless wheel (except that hamsters do at least get fit from the workout), and found myself exhausted, disillusioned, and thinking increasingly about the meaning of life. I began to wonder: How many people working in this office and elsewhere found joy, purpose, and satisfaction in whatever it was they were doing? Did they, like me, think that work was futile and everything boiled down to nothing in the end? While I knew that some had found inspiration, happiness, and excitement in this job, my fellow intern and I found happiness only in our hour-long lunch break (and of course, weekends).

While I was thinking about life, God spoke to me through 2 Peter 3:11-12 at a Bible study group that I was attending. The verse said, “ Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

It struck me then that it wasn’t about what I was doing at my job, but about what kind of a life I was living. Was it holy and godly? Was I looking forward to Jesus’ return? Or was I looking for earthly things, such as a fulfilling job to satisfy the craving I had for purpose in life?

Living a holy and godly life while waiting for Jesus’ return doesn’t entail going to church 24/7, or living on a mountaintop in quiet contemplation. It could mean very practical things like pointing a hurting friend to Jesus, refusing to engage in unethical behaviour, or being patient with a younger sibling. For me, I’ve been encouraged by this verse to teach children who come from dysfunctional homes and whose parents don’t have enough to give them a good education. This has taught me to wait for my reward in heaven (because there isn’t any tangible reward now), and to seize the opportunity to do God’s work of pointing others to Him while I still can.

Life is not meaningless if it’s lived in the way that our Creator meant for it to be lived. I now keep this verse on a post-it above my desk as a reminder to myself that all these earthly achievements and pursuits will be destroyed, and to live for something that will last—God’s heavenly kingdom.