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FIRST-PERSON: Beating the unemployment blues

ATLANTA (BP)–Because of world conditions, it’s not unusual these days for people to feel as if they’re on a fast moving merry-go-round and that the control handle has malfunctioned. Some people struggle with issues of unemployment and fears, resulting from an unstable investment economy. Others dread the cloud of uncertainty, resulting from the threats of war.

As an individual, there’s not much you can do about the economic roller coaster, or the situations in Iraq or North Korea, but there are some things you can do about personal unemployment.

Help — I’m not working

Earlier this year, the Labor Department said more Americans were lining up for first-time jobless claims. Rising first-time-unemployment claim filing is pretty reliable evidence of a lackluster jobs market. That can be very discouraging to someone without a job.

As a Christian, one of the best things you can do, whether employed or not, is to be sure that you’re spiritually healthy. Are you currently walking with the Lord, trusting Him and spending adequate time in Bible study and prayer? There’s nothing like God’s Word to lift your spirits. Read the Psalms and also Philippians, because you’ll find that they can provide comfort and inspiration. In other words, check your spiritual pulse, and be sure you’re trusting God as your provider.

Next, take a realistic inventory of your assets as a person and as an employee. Creatively think of how many different ways you can market these personal assets. Identify your transferable skills and career focus. By discovering your strengths for the workplace, you’ll be able to present these to a potential employer.

Then, outline your work history to show the responsibilities you’ve had, the types of work you’ve done and your successes in those responsibilities. Develop a one-page resume (longer if you’ve been employed 10 years in the same field), and be aware of how you can tailor it to fit particular job openings.

You’re not alone

You aren’t the only unemployed person around. Don’t get down on yourself or try to handle the situation on your own. Get involved with a good accountability or support group. Seek out at least one primary support relationship besides your spouse to help serve as a career coach. Don’t dwell on negatives, but at the same time be able to share with God and other believers your feelings of loss, anger, depression and stress.

If you’re married, be sure that your spouse and children get plenty of your time, and pay special attention to their needs during this trying time.

Take immediate stock of your finances, and develop a short-term financial plan. Be sure to include savings, spendable assets and income — including severance pay or state unemployment compensation.

Establish a short-term budget. You’ll have to cut back on nonessential expenses in every way you can during this period. So know your bottom-line monthly needs, including how much money is required to pay your bills.

If necessary, make arrangements with creditors to reduce payments on a temporary basis. To determine how long you can afford to be without a job, you’ll have to project your cash flow and available assets in light of this short-term budget. If you haven’t done this, you might suddenly come to the bottom of the well of your personal finances and not know what to do next.

Believers help believers

If you need financial assistance or help getting through this transitional period, let your pastor know or call on other believers. You probably wouldn’t hesitate to ask for prayer for health needs, so don’t be embarrassed to ask for prayer for help with financial needs. Many churches have resources available to help with food, clothing and other necessities.

Network through every possible contact and use leads from people you know to make direct contact with potential employers. Be sure to set and meet goals for daily calls and personal contacts. Spend six to eight hours per day looking for work.

Take care of yourself. Eat well, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. Avoid drinking or eating in excess. Maintain a normal daily routine. During non-working hours, relax, read and relate to family members and others. Don’t waste time fretting. Instead, trust God.

Do whatever it takes to make finding a job your fulltime “job.” Get up and get dressed for work each day.

Covenant with your spouse or a friend to hold you accountable to your goals and to encourage you in the process. Perhaps this would be an ideal time to learn to serve others.

If you have the financial resources, use this opportunity to learn new skills, or check with your state labor department, because some of them teach new skills. Ask about this at your local office. If you are thinking of a career change, Crown Financial Ministries’ Career Direct resource is a testing assessment program that provides valuable insights about one’s personality, interests, skills, work priorities and the types of occupations that match you. It’s available on CD-ROM and also in a printed edition.

Trust God

Continue to trust God and wait patiently for Him to provide your next job.

Crown Financial Ministries has volunteer budget counselors throughout the country who offer their services at no charge to Christians who desire to establish budgets, get out of debt and honor God through their finances. The volunteers minister under the authority of their local churches and are trained in biblical principles of finance to help people become worthy stewards of what God has entrusted to their care.

Establishing and maintaining a budget is beneficial at any time but especially when you find yourself unemployed. Crown can help. You may call 1-800-722-1976 or go online at www.crown.org.

And above all remember that “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Burkett is chairman of the board of Crown Financial Ministries. A Southern Baptist layman based in Gainesville, Ga., Burkett is the host of the national “Money Matters” radio program and author of two resources published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention: “How Much Is Enough? 30 Days to Personal Revival” and “Jesus on Money.”

    About the Author

  • Larry Burkett