Financial Survival For Christians, Part 6 (Finding Work)

Title: Financial Survival For Christians, Part 6 (Finding Work)

Text: Matthew 7:7-12

Time: July 22nd, 2010

While our nation and the world is still in an economic recession, I’ve been taking about ways Christians can survive in the midst of financial difficulties by standing on God’s promises found in the Bible and by prayer. I’ve covered many different ways we can get the most bang for the buck, so to speak, and stay alive financially even in troubling times. Today, I’d like to talk about a related topic – employment, namely, finding work. One of the components of this current recession is unemployment. Companies are laying-off works in order to implement budget cuts. And companies are reluctant in hiring new workers out of fear the recession isn’t over, or even that it might get worse. So there’s a lot of unemployment these days – which has a direct influence on one’s personal finances. If we aren’t working, we aren’t earning a living wage. And if we aren’t earning a living wage, we’re going to fall behind in our finances. Some people are losing their homes, not only because of rising interest rates on their mortgages, but also because they’ve been laid-off from work. For some, there are at least unemployment benefits for a while, but for others there isn’t even that. What are we supposed to do as Christian if we are laid-off work, or if we’ve moved to another location looking for a job? Is there anything unique a Christian can do in searching for employment? It’s a very discouraging and depressing job market out there at the present moment. Like I said before, most companies are not hiring right now, some are only hiring part-time workers, and still others may be hiring once-in-a-while but paying very little wages. What’s a Christian to do? Are we supposed to respond to the present economic situation like unbelievers? Is there no difference between how a genuine Christian approaches employment in a tough economy versus how a non-Christian approaches the same challenge? Yes, there’s a big difference. As Christians we have God and God’s promises to stand on in our job search. In economically hard times we have the Lord to lean on in prayer. We don’t have to resort to doing what the unbelievers are doing to provide for ourselves, because “the pagans run after all these things” (Matthew 6:32) – jobs, food, housing, clothing, resources, for example. But as Christians we know “[our] heavenly Father knows that [we] need them” (Matthew 6:32) – the necessities of life. We are encouraged in the Bible to trust in the Lord for everything during hard times. But what does that exactly look like in searching for a job? Has God given us any instructions in searching for work? Yes! “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets,” Matthew 7:7-12. Here’s encouragement and practical helps to anyone searching for employment. Let me explain.

First, as Christians we are to ask for employment. Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Who do we ask? To begin with, we ask God in prayer for work. Then, we ask people, companies hiring, human resource departments, for example, for work. We ask both God and man for gainful employment. And we don’t just ask them once – but we keep on asking them for work. The original Greek word for “ask” in this passage is in the present tense, which means it’s a continuous action – “keep on asking.” We are supposed to “keep on asking” both God and man for employment. It’s an ongoing process. Many people get discouraged in their job search because it’s more of a process than an event. Usually, we won’t find a job right away. Hardly anybody ever finds employment immediately after they start searching. Most people only find work after a while; some find it after a long while. But the first thing we are to do when we find ourselves unemployed is to take this problem – like we take all problems – to God in prayer and continue in prayer until the prayer is answered. That may be hard after a long while, especially if we receive rejection time and time again in our job search, but it’s what we are called to do. We keep praying. But we don’t just leave it at prayer, we also keep on asking people, the ones doing the hiring, for work. We send our resume around in response to ads we see, we visit human resource offices of companies hiring, we talk to managers and supervisors about any job openings with their companies – in other words, we ask for a job of those who are in positions to hire. Why keep on asking? Because the promise says, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Now notice it doesn’t give a time frame. It doesn’t say how long we need to keep asking. But the promise from God in the Bible does say that if we keep on asking we will receive, “For everyone who asks receives.” So the first thing we need to do when we find ourselves unemployed and beginning our job search is to make sure we start asking for work. We have to take the initiative. Very few people are in such demand by the job market that employers will ask them to come over and work for their company. That happens once in a while, but unfortunately, it usually happens when we are already working and another company wants to get us to change and work for them! If only these opportunities would come along when we are unemployed and out looking for work! No. Don’t count on companies asking you, plan on asking them for work. But at least as Christians we can ask in faith and hope. We have God’s promise that if we ask enough, we’ll receive ultimately. If we keep on asking, it.  will be given to us. But we need to stand on God’s promises and stay in prayer while we’re at it.

Second, as Christians we are to seek employment. Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” We’re called to seek out a job – and that means we have to get out and look for work. Now asking may involve a lot of emailing and telephoning, just to find out if there are any positions open. Once we find out that there is a position open or that a company is hiring, we need to seek out the job, which means a lot of different things. We can’t get discouraged because we seek work but no position comes our way; we have to learn how to persist and be patient. The statistics for unemployment came the other day and it showed that it’s slightly up from what it was before. It’s not very good, and it’s not getting any better, but that doesn’t mean we can give up. We should never let some newspaper article or television news report about how bad the employment figures are discourage us. Those are general figures, but our challenge is to find a specific job. And we only need one job! It doesn’t matter how many jobs have been created or lost in the last six months, if we find work, all the statistics are immaterial because we only need employment for one in our life at this time. Now seeking a job, like I said before, can mean many things. Most people keep an eye on the employment section of the want ads in the paper. We should be reading that section every day, or at least two or three times a week, but definitely on Sunday when many companies place their job listings. Then, on Monday morning – or at least before noon – we should be either on the phone or sending our email resume to those places we think might need what we can offer in the job position. “Seek and you will find” and “He who seeks finds.” We have God’s promise, again, that if we keep on seeking – the original Greek present tense of the verb applies to this word also – if we keep on seeking employment, we’ll find employment eventually. Now we’ve got to trust in God that he’ll find us work as we continue to ask and seek for it. Unbelievers and non-Christians don’t have such encouragement because they don’t have the promise of God that they’ll receive what they ask for or get what they go after, but we do. Also, unbelievers only ask on the human level, they only ask people for work. But as Christians, we are not only asking and talking to people about finding a job, we are more importantly asking and seeking from God employment. God is sovereign; God is in control. It’s just as much about God giving us work, as it is some company hiring us. So we ask and seek first from God as our source, while at the same time asking and seeking in the job marketplace.

Third, as Christians, we are to follow-up or knock on every door of opportunity we are given. Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” God’s promise is that if we keep on knocking, eventually the door will be opened to us. Which door? That’s the mystery that we don’t know. We don’t know which job possibility will turn out to be our next job, so we have to follow-up on every job opportunity as if it were the one that eventually leads to employment. Like I said before, ever so often employment statistics come out, and these can be discouraging, especially the unemployment statistics. You know they only count people who are seeking work, not the ones who’ve gotten so discouraged and depressed over not finding work that they’ve quit trying. So really, the unemployment situation is much worse because there are so many who’ve stopped trying. They don’t even bother to count these people in the unemployment statistics. We need to avoid quitting or getting so discouraged that we give up looking for work. As Christians we don’t ever have to get to that sad place because we’ve got promises from God in the Bible that guarantee us employment, eventually. “Knock and the door will be opened” and “To him who knocks, the door will be opened.” We don’t ever have to give up because we’ve got the promises of God to encourage us to keep on trying, keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking – and eventually we’ll get our next job. Now that doesn’t mean that getting a job is easy or effortless. In fact, one of the hardest things in life is landing employment if you are unemployed. It’s so much easier to get another job, a different job, while you already have a job, than it is to get a job while unemployed. For one, if we already have a job we aren’t under any pressure to find something, because, we already have something! Another thing is, companies always seem to be more eager to talk to you if you already are working. I guess they figure you’re worth more if some company is already employing you. But if you lose your job, it just seems to be a lot harder to get any attention from anyone hiring. I guess they see you in the vast ocean of the unemployed and they aren’t as impressed with you. So that’s something to remember – if you’re employed and thinking of changing jobs, search and interview while you’re still working, because it adds to your value. Don’t quit your job and then look for work. But if you are now unemployed, that’s beside the point. We need to follow up on every opportunity that God gives us to find employment.

Since we don’t know which job interview will eventually land us a job we need to approach every one as if it is that last interview we’ll have, that we’ll get the job. We need to take advantage of any opening, any opportunity we hear about. We need to follow-up on however many leads the Lord puts in our way. Now this in itself is a full or part time job. I’ve often heard career counselors say that looking for work is every bit as hard as actually working a job. We need to approach looking for a job as a job. We need to be every bit as dedicated to search for work as we would in coming into work every day and doing a good job. If searching for a job is supposed to be harder work than actually working at a job, then we have everything to look forward to because once we land a job, we wont’ have to work as hard – or at least, hopefully, the work we’ll do for our job will be more enjoyable than looking for work. I know of nobody who actually enjoys looking for work. It’s usually no fun being under financial pressure, having bills that need paid and not being able to pay all of them exactly on time because of financial difficulties. Then, on top of all our money problems, we have to go out and work hard finding a job! And looking for work costs money too. I remember at different times in my life praying and asking God for money enough for gas in order to simply go to a job interview! One time I was so low on money that I decided to take a motor scooter to save gas money. Not a good idea! It was a hot and sunny day and I got a sunburn on the way to the job interview, plus my hair was all mashed down because of wearing a helmet. Needless to say I didn’t get the job. But there are many difficulties and many costs in just searching for work. But beyond all these problems, as Christians, we have God’s promise, God’s word, that he’ll meet our needs, including our need for employment. He promises us that if we ask and seek and knock, that we’ll receive and find and the doors for employment will be open to us. Praying before every job interview is important, and then praying after every interview is important too. “God, if this is where I’m supposed to work, please open the door of employment for me. But if this isn’t where I’m supposed to be, close the door. Amen” Do you trust God? Can you trust God for a job, just like you trust him for other things? Sometimes we have to pray to God to make some jobs available for us. Other times we have to ask God to land us a job interview at a company that’s hiring. Still other times, we must ask God to lead us to contact the right company at the right time and say the right thing. There are many prayers we’ll need to pray that eventually will lead to employment. It’s a process. Sometimes we need to pray for ourselves, “God, help me to not get discouraged or give up. Give me encouragement as I go through this process. I trust in you. Please help me find work. Amen.”

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