Five Keys for Facing Unemployment

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This morning I kissed my husband good-bye as he walked out the door for work. And as I did, I was grateful for so many things.

Nearly six months ago, the school where my husband had been employed for nearly ten years as a superintendent downsized their administrative staff. He was released, and Dan suddenly found himself among the ranks of the unemployed. Over the next six months, I watched as my husband struggled to find a job in the middle of Michigan’s dismal economy.

His age was against him (he’s not a spring chicken, but don’t tell him I said that out loud).

And he has this little issue with mobility because of a neurological condition. He walks kinda funny (don’t tell him I said that out loud either). But when people line up for jobs, they usually don’t look first at the older man who lists a bit to the west.

Even if he’s the most experienced and has a proven track record of success.

But during these months, Dan taught me valuable lessons about leadership in the face of adversity.

  1. Don’t make it about the other guy.  It can be easy to look at an employer who lets us go and focus on perceived injustices that may or may not have been done to us. But in the months my husband was looking for a job, I never heard a negative word about his former employer. The words he spoke about his former school were words of blessing and gratitude.
  2. Don’t forget to serve. In the months Dan was unemployed, he began volunteering for employers where he hoped he might one day work. He also took on a volunteer chaplaincy role at our church and signed up for mentoring opportunities in the community. Those volunteer positions eventually led Dan to great new friendships and professional connections in areas of his interests.
  3. Don’t forget to give. No matter how tight the budget got, Dan didn’t compromise his commitment to giving back to God–both in tithing and in helping others. We’ve always considered tithing to be a reflection of gratitude, and we were grateful that God was faithfully meeting our needs week after week, just as he always had.
  4. Don’t forget to show gratitude. In the six months of my husband’s unemployment, I never heard a negative word out of him. I didn’t hear a complaint. In fact, I saw a quiet spirit of gratitude and confidence–even when the car broke down or when we chose not to fill a few prescriptions. Let me be clear–we weren’t grateful for the unemployment, but we were choosing to be grateful in the unemployment.
  5. Don’t forget to pray–specifically. I’m not talking about asking to win the Lotto here. (We’ve got another blog topic there.) Dan asked God to give him a job where he could use his 40 years of  experience working with kids. He asked God for a job where he could serve people. He asked God for a job where he could use his gift of mercy. And he asked God for a job that would support the needs of his family.

I’m grateful–so very grateful–to say that God provided a job. A job that met all of the above criteria. A job that allows Dan to hang out with 16-23 year old kids at Job Corps.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

What  about you? Have you faced unemployment? Are you walking through it right now? What is your self-talk telling you about how to respond? Have you been tempted to quit giving or serving or give in to griping in the struggle? God’ knows your discouragement, and he cares about your every need.

Above and beyond all, don’t forget God is for you in the struggle.

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