The unemployment which erupted from the Covid-19 shutdowns has impacted the Christian community as well. You may be unemployed, and it may be your first time.
Regardless, there are a number of us who have been there and can empathize with you. I have personally been through three serious periods of unemployment and since then have counseled dozens of friends and associates who have been there as well. Here’s some advice from someone who has gone before you in this.
1. Count It a Blessing
I know that is really hard to do. Much easier said than done. However, we have a specific scriptural direction on that.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,(F) 3 because you know that the testing of your faith(G) produces perseverance. (H) 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature(I) and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 2-4 (NIV)
From a scriptural point of view, then, this period of unemployment will make you a more mature, confident Christian. Some of your spiritual growth can only come through adversity. The Lord is going to be working with you to shape your character to enhance your relationship with Him.
From a practical point of view, I have always found, in retrospect, that these periods of unemployment are a gift.
They give you an opportunity to shore up, fix up, and attend to things that you have neglected for lack of time and energy. Now, you have both time and energy and can take care of things in your house and family that may have been neglected.
More importantly, the time that you now have brings an opportunity to take a deep breath and consider the deeper things in life. Are your priorities, right? Are you living a life that is consistent with your values? Are you intentionally growing closer to God? More specifically, are you working in the right industry? Doing the right kind fo work? Living in the right place?
If you haven’t yet done it, now is a great time to consider your purpose in life, to clarify your responsibilities, to inventory your spiritual gifts, skills, and talents, and to identify the things on which you should focus.
While it is difficult to see it now, I expect that on the other side of this temporary period, you’ll look back and be thankful for the clarity it brought to you.
2. Reduce Spending
This should be glaringly obvious. Now is not the time to run up credit card balances by eating out, enjoying a Starbucks coffee, or viewing the latest movie. Take an objective look at what you are spending, eliminate the luxuries, and hunker down. You may be amazed at how cheaply you can live when you eliminate the comforts and luxuries.
3. Increase Giving
I know, you are thinking –” What! How can I give more when my income has been cut off?”
Let’s talk about giving as a percentage of your income. Hopefully, prior to your unemployment, you had determined to give a percentage of your income. Now, up the percentage. That doesn’t mean that you will give more in absolute dollars, it means that you will give more in percentages.
You will have income — unemployment compensation, odd jobs that you do, and money that comes from unexpected sources. While the total of all of that will likely be dramatically less than when you were employed, you can increase the percentage of that income to higher levels than when you employed.
Here’s why. There is something about giving that does a couple of things:
- It is an act of faith that declares, in a very real and tangible way, that you expect God to be good to his promises and to be involved in your life. You are so confident in him and his promises that you can confidently share your material blessings in expectation of greater blessings down the road.
- It changes your focus. Instead of “poor me,” you discover that there are those who are in far worse circumstances than you, and it allows you to help them.
In every period of unemployment, I increased my giving. I am, at this point in my life, enjoying a standard of living that I never expected. I attribute that, at least in part, to the Lord honoring my act of faith through giving.
While we are on the subject of giving, I’d recommend that you do some research on how and to whom to give. Don’t mindlessly continue to give to the local church, because you have never considered any alternatives. Read a couple of my other posts on the subject.
“I am required to give my tithe to the local church”
“9 Elements of Christian Business Giving”
“Should a Christian Business Help the Poor?”
4. Make Work of Finding a New Job
Serious job seekers will spend 6 – 10 hours a day working at finding their next job. This is the primary advice from people who have successfully navigated a serious period of unemployment.
Rather than spend a lot of time here, I’m going to suggest you read my post, “Unemployed? Here’s how to find your next professional job”
5. Get Closer to God
This is one of the reasons why a period of unemployment is, in many cases, a blessing. You now have the time and the motivation to come closer to God. That means a regular time of Bible reading, conversational prayer, and closer involvement with other Christians who can interact with you and support you.
Daily, ask God for direction and his involvement in your day’s activities. Make him a bigger part of your life while you have the extra time to focus on Him.
6. Keep an Open Mind – Be Sensitive to God’s Leading
God may have something totally different in mind for you then what you may be expecting.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).
In my last period of unemployment, I was focused on finding my next job. God, however, wanted me to be in private practice as a consultant and professional speaker. He gradually closed some doors and opened others until I realized He was pointing me in a direction I had never previously considered.
In retrospect, it has been a tremendous blessing.
Which brings us back to where we started: Consider it a gift. I know it is difficult to see from today’s perspective. When you are on the other side of this, and look back in retrospect at this situation, you will see how God used it to bring you to a better place, to build your character, and to draw you closer to God.