Unemployed? Work to find work

To be able to work, or to have a job, is a great privilege. It is grace!

From the beginning, work was part of God’s plan with humankind. He put Adam and Eve in the lovely paradise with everything that was beautiful and everything that was good to eat, but also with the instructions: Be fruitful, fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). God let the humans live in the garden to tend and guard and keep it (Genesis 2:15).

And so, for centuries, most people were agriculturalists. They lived from the fruits of the land and the produce of their livestock. Later, some of them also became artisans who produced things. If you were dedicated and sensible in your work, you could have a good life. Something of this is interpreted by the preacher in Ecclesiastes: I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his portion. (Ecclesiastes 3:22).

Working circumstances change

As society has changed throughout the ages, work and working circumstances have changed drastically. Most people are no longer their own boss. They are absorbed in an economic system where they receive remuneration, if they are lucky enough to have a job.
However, millions of people around the world do not have the security of a fixed job and a regular income. What is more, as the economy declines further, more and more people lose their jobs. They land in a great crisis.
Losing your job puts you in a great predicament. It is nothing less than a traumatic event! What will you live for now? How will you fulfil your obligations? What about your house, your car, the responsibilities of your family?

Emotional impact

The emotional impact of this can hardly be overestimated. All kinds of emotions manifest: anger, disappointment, shame and powerlessness, anxiety and frustration, uncertainty and dejection (depression). You easily feel worthless and your self-confidence disappears.
It is important to remember the following:

  • You are still the same person, valuable in the eyes of the Lord. He still promises to look after you: I will never leave you or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5).
  • It is very unlikely that you lost the job for not working hard enough. Therefore, do not take it personally. Do not be ashamed of your situation.
  • Although you are not in control of what happened to you, you are in full control of how you react to it. Now is the time when you should really stand firm in faith and trust in the Lord.
  • Beware of losing your temper and accusing others. Do not run down your former employer or become embittered. Leave it to the Lord. Do not regard yourself as a victim.
  • Do open your heart to your family and explain to them that your circumstances will be different for now. You might have to stop certain things temporarily, such as extra sports or music lessons. You may also have to adapt your lifestyle in other ways.
  • If you feel depressed, do not hesitate to seek help from your reverend, a counselor or psychologist.

Looking for a job is a job

It is crucial that you cannot surrender to the television, crossword puzzles or other distractions now. Your job now is to look for a job. Just like you used to go to work for the day, it is now your task for the day to look for new work.
However, besides looking for work, you should also set other goals for yourself – exercise, working in the garden and other hobbies. You have a chance to catch up with maintenance in and around the house. Set the garage and storage room in order, if necessary. Drive away the rubbish. Eat and live healthy. Stay positive and keep busy.
As soon as you lose your work, you have to make sure what your financial position will be in future. Perhaps there is an unemployment benefit that should come your way. Draw up your budget based on the finances you have available. Know exactly where each month’s income is going. Immediately reconsider all your expenses and cancel any luxury items.

What is the will of God?

If you view your retrenchment as no coincidence, but something that is part of God’s plan for your life, you will see it differently. Then you will reflect on the big question of God’s will for your life once more. Perhaps he wants to send you on a whole new route. Maybe God is creating a new opportunity from my crisis – I just have to discover it.
Of course, this is an important consideration in every person’s life. Should I continue with the exact same work in the same place all my life, or does God want to use me in a new place now? (Read Bob Buford: Half-time).

Practical to-do list

Practically speaking, it would be good to take care of the following:

  • See to it that you have a complete CV that is compiled with care and fully reflects your training, competency and experience.
  • Make sure that you have good testimonials from people who know you well or are willing to serve as referrals.
  • How about completing further training in this time, shaping up your skills and learning new things?
  • If you are able, you can now develop that second career that has been in the back of your mind all this time.
  • Still be realistic when applying for a new job. Accept any reasonable work that does provide you with an income so long. You can look for a better position that suits you more as time progresses.
  • Make good use of the internet when looking for new work.
  • Recruitment agencies can be a great help.
  • Study the advertisements that appear in the paper every day. Something surprising may show up. If they offer to train you for the job, you should consider it.
  • Use all your personal contacts, even from your last job. Someone may just know about a job somewhere that can help you until you find the position you really want.

Stories of hope

Stories abound about other people who would not accept defeat. Antoinette was retrenched from the news industry at 48 and is still looking for fixed employment. In the meantime, however, she has focused on her hobby and is now making a decent income from photography. Jake was a theatre manager at 54 when the position was abolished. He followed up on all his contacts and is now well underway on a freelance basis. In this way, he is earning even more money than when he was working, although he would have preferred the stability of a fixed income and a thirteenth cheque. People with accounting or computer skills can earn a good income from freelance work in this way.

Seek help

If you really are in dire straits and literally do not have food on the table, you should feel free to seek help from welfare organisations or congregations that provide constructive help. Social workers can also help with advice.
A good example of an inter-church organisation that is already looking after people “between jobs” in many places, is Jacob’s Well. This is a network of spiritual counsellors, social workers, legal aid and training. In addition to caring for you immediate needs, they connect with a great number of recruitment agencies and have helped many people in this way. Computer training is provided, as well as courses in business management. Jacob’s Well also has an incubation centre providing prospective entrepreneurs with training and support.

The love of God

Of course believers and faith communities (congregations) face the massive challenge of opening their hearts and reaching out to people in need. We should all learn to provide in the emotional and spiritual, but also the physical needs of those who cannot work or do not have work, with compassion and understanding.
Listen to what the apostle John wrote: But if a person has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need and that person doesn’t care – how can the love of God remain in him? (1 John 3:17). The next verse: Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth.
In Acts 9, we read about the faithful woman Tabitha who lived in Joppa. She was full of good works and acts of charity (verse 36). What happened when she became sick and died? God sent the apostle Peter to raise her from the dead – so that she could continue the good work! She truly lived the instructions of Jesus: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).


The suffering in our country, the precarious conditions and unemployment, can leave one discouraged and wondering whose fault it is. Of course, what God wants is that all people will repent (2 Peter 3:9). Paul writes to the Ephesians  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need (Ephesians 4:28).
And so God enables some of the faithful to freely provide for poor people and also to create employment for others. After all, God wants everyone to rejoice in their work (see Ecclesiastes 3:22 again).
In the end, none of us work for ourselves. We follow Jesus as the Great Servant who came not to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45).

What is God’s deepest purpose with each of our lives?

Paul answers it like this: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Lord, I would love to do the work that you give me so that I can glorify your name through my work.

Contact numbers:
Jacob’s Well: 012 993 2154
NB: 021 911 2631/2

Dr Louis Louw

Share this post