For Those in Extended Job Search

Spoiler Alert: I am going to talk about God, and His work in my life. You are free to stop reading at any point.

It sometimes feels like I have been in job search for decades. Seriously. Early on in my career, because loyalty was no longer valued in the workplace, I was coached to start looking for my next role as soon as I landed a new one. I value loyalty so this approach often troubled me; But I heeded the advice because I respected the person who offered it. Doing this, however, often felt like being only half-in. It fostered discontent. I was not even giving the new job or the new employer a chance to develop to its full potential before planning my next career move.

With each interview came the promise of new beginnings, a fresh start. Anticipation began to build that this might be the one. Yet somewhere in the interview process, I was no longer the lead contender, and I would get the dreaded email: “We are proceeding with another candidate for this position.” Welcome rejection, my old friend.

In job search, it can often feel like the pursuit of a purple squirrel. Trust me on this: They do not exist. I have looked far and wide.

It is not to say that I have not had a great career or never held a job. I have developed and launched many successful products for companies both large and small. I have helped for-profits build brand equity and increase profits, whether by increasing the top line or shoring up costs. I have helped non-profits double, even triple their volunteer base. I have hired well, coached well and helped others reach their potential and their goals.

But that is not where I am going with this.

It seems to me that we can put too much pressure on a role to meet a need that only God can fill. Our expectations of a job or a career and their purpose have become skewed. We put the gift before the Giver, and our roles and our identities (when rooted in what we do) are crushed under unmet expectations and disappointments.

So, what does it mean to put the gift before the Giver? Quite simply put, it is to make a gift that comes from God more important than the relationship we are meant to enjoy with Him. This is what is meant by the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Maybe we never acknowledge God’s presence in the first place, or we do not express gratitude to Him for the good things in our lives. We might be so busy keeping ourselves and our families financially afloat that there is no time to explore what we truly believe or to get to know the One who saves.

And then crisis hits. Illness. Job loss. Divorce. Death of a loved one. Our world is shattered, and we have nowhere to turn.

As famously paraphrased by Benjamin Franklin, “But in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Taxes are often increasing, but death is a certainty that no amount of promotions, pay raises or career fulfillment can overcome. While they might help us to pass the time here on earth, they cannot save.

There is hope. Jesus Himself told His followers, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus Christ is God, and He knows about suffering. He suffered, died and overcame death so those who put their faith in Him would share in His resurrection and overcome death as well. This is a miraculous gift of grace that we do not deserve and cannot earn for ourselves, even if we are “good” people.

I put my faith in Christ following just such a crisis period many years ago, and He is continually changing me and changing my life. Jesus is who I was seeking in my career, in my relationships, and just about everywhere else I looked, and I always came up empty-handed. I have since learned that He is not a “crutch.” Jesus is so much more, and He does not disappoint.

This is not a journey for the faint of heart, but if you have been thinking about what it means to put your faith in Christ, spend time with those Christians in your life who you trust and ask them about it. You never know. You might be surprised by the joy you see in their faces when you ask. If they are anything like me, they might also get a little overzealous. Forgive them anyway. They mean well.

As the next step in my life is being revealed, my expectations have been greatly tempered. I keep my eyes open for how God is working in and through me in this season, and I am growing in patience and gratitude, difficult as it may be. No pain, no gain, right? And I believe in offering second chances because that is what has been offered to me.

Happy job hunting to you all and Godspeed!

Photo credit: francescoch

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