Gayle Hilligoss, our expert columnist on the practical skills needed for church communicators in this article shares how to cope with job loss, however as I prepared it to share with you, I was struck with how appropriate her advice is for handling any loss in life or work. Even if you are not challenged with a job loss, we are all challenged with losses and this article will be helpful in all of them.
Losing a job qualifies as one of life’s major stresses. Unfortunately, many Christian professionals will be among the thousands who will share this experience at one time or another.
Job loss is one of those situations over which you may have little control. Here’s a truth to hold on to: While we have no control over the circumstances, we do have complete control over how we choose to respond to those circumstances. You are not at the mercy of what goes on around you. You can choose your course.
Consider the truth in this little poem:
One ship sailed east; one ship sailed west,
Propelled by the self same blow.
It was not the gale,
But the set of the sail,
That determined which way they’d go.
Losing a position in a church can be particularly debilitating. Often the personal and emotional ties are stronger than in the average workplace. Many times the termination process is handled poorly. Nevertheless, you can survive and even chart your course for anew and better destination.
• Clear your heart and mind.
Whatever has happened is passed. Concentrate on what is ahead and refuse to allow yourself, or those around you, to dwell on hurt feelings, injustices, sadness. Pray for a positive spirit, for an openness to see new opportunities.
• Take stock.
Just how will the loss of your income affect your household? Do some evaluating and determine what expenses can be cut. Recognize the stress involved in this life event and build in some release factors. This is a time to be extra good to yourself and to be especially forgiving to others. As you look at where you stand, you will find many pluses.Look for the rewards in simple things.
• Make a personal inventory.
Review your job skills, experience, and achievements. Prepare an up-to-date resume. You may find you have even more to offer than you realized. Now is a good time to take afresh look at your professional appearance too. A new look can bolster confidence and emphasize professionalism. Bring a new you to your job search.
• Know what you want.
If you find work in the church rewarding, you will likely choose to stay in this field.Make a list of features you want in your new job: the type of work you will do, salary and benefits, hours, office location, and so on. Identify the priorities on your list, those things that you consider non-negotiable.
Be certain you have the skills to do the job you want. Brush up on technical skills, read up on how to handle a job interview, get yourself ready physically, emotionally, and spiritually to go after that new position. Remain faithful in prayer, Bible study, and church participation.
• Do it now.
Unless you decide not to go back to work at all, start your job search just as soon as you get your bearings. Many times people feel so wounded after losing a job that they procrastinate. You want to start looking before your financial reserves are depleted and the search turns desperate. Yes, this is a tough job market. All the more reason to really work at this.
• Get the word out.
Go online; fill out the applications; submit resumes. But, know that your informal network of acquaintances is probably your best resource for locating work. Nearly 80percent of all jobs are filled this way. Don’t give up; get the word out through every reliable source you can find.
• Stay flexible.
Few of us find our perfect job—especially in today’s business climate. Be willing to give on some points; sometimes detours take you to good places. Many successful Christian businesses started just that way—a pastor recognized the need for clip art and church newsletter expertise; a secretary yearned for training specifically for church office staff.You may have a talent you can develop into a business.
• Apply the principle.
The principle of setting your sail—not allow the wind to determine your course—is a valuable one to remember. Maybe the storm buffeting you is something other than job loss. The principle still applies. Adjust the guidelines to your situation and expect success.