By Ed Gungor
January 14, 2009
America is facing some difficult economic times. Many companies are downsizing. Earning a living is becoming a challenging enterprise for many. I would like to suggest, however, that there are some things you can do that will protect your job during times of high unemployment (or help you find one when others can’t seem to). I’m suggesting that you may actually have more control over the security of your job than the economy does.
There are promises given to us by God concerning our work life. God promises to give us favor in the marketplace and to bless the work of our hands (Psa. 90:17). He promises to be the one who gives us “the ability to make wealth” through blessing our work (Deut. 8:18). But these promises are more a potential than a reality—like the potential harvest a field offers a farmer. If a farmer learns how to cooperate with the soil he can have great harvests. The same is true for us in the workplace. God wants his people to be fruitful in everything we do—even in the marketplace. And he wants to help us in this regard. But there is a catch: we must learn how to “farm” that potential.
Here are four secrets that will help you take charge of your career very much like a farmer takes charge of his fields:
Those who bring the greatest value are the last to be voted off the island.
The last person to get laid off from a business is the most valuable person. If you don’t make much difference or bring all that much value, you will be easily replaceable. And you will be replaced. How do you become more valuable? You have to work on YOU. Get better. Smarter. Become more skilled. Sharpen your saw.
Ask any business owner or manager and they will tell you that no matter what the economy does it’s still hard to find good people. You can become too “good” to be laid off. Careful analysis will reveal that personal success is less about a person’s job or what’s happening with the economy; it’s really more about the person. Success isn’t something we are to pursue; it is something we attract by becoming a certain kind of person—a successful one.
So many people just do what they are told to do at work. And they work at the speed of everyone else around them—no slower and certainly no faster. But employees bulletproof their jobs when they pay attention to what’s going on and work as efficiently and hard as possible—no matter what coworkers think of them. This should be especially true for those of us who “work as unto the Lord.” These folks look for solutions to improve the profitability of the company while they work. They step up and act in ways that exceed their pay grade. This group never demands pay increases or job stability; they don’t have to. They simply act in a way that causes pay increases and job stability to naturally flow to them.
Decide to step up and be visibly engaged on the job. The invisible guy is the first to go when downsizing happens. Be the person who arrives early and stays late. Be the one who is seen as more committed to results than to clockwatching. Be the guy or gal who pays attention to little details like apparel and appearance, making sure your attire is appropriate to the tasks you engage in. Have an eye for the small details. Learn to listen well and speak up when it’s appropriate.
Be a servant
Jesus taught that the secret to becoming “great” in this world is by becoming a servant (Mat. 20:26). A servant is a person who has a kind of whatever-whenever-wherever attitude. In other words, you make things easy. You are easy to work with, easy to communicate and interact with—you are easy. This doesn't mean you are a passive nodding machine who does anything people demand of you, but that you are an engaging, caring person who is willing to join in whatever it takes to see your company succeed.
An “easy” person is not a griper or a troublesome soul. He or she is useful and always looking for creative ways to do more and to be more efficient, often exceeding the expectations of bosses or managers. This person looks for ways to inspire others to be better at their work by sharing whatever knowledge or skills he or she knows with others without concern about who gets the credit. This person is willing to pick up the slack when others are falling down or have been cut from the team. God promises to exalt the ones who dare to become servants (Phil. 2:5-9).
Do not fear.
Not dozens, but hundreds of times the Bible commands us not to fear. Fear is a kind of anti-faith. The psalmist penned, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psa. 46:2). Fear is not an option for the believer, no matter what’s falling apart.
Decide to trust God no matter what’s going on in the economy (or if you lose your job!). Then do what you can to grow and become a better person. Somewhere down the path things will change. God will see to it that they do! Paul said it this way: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
Your job-life is all jacked-up with potential as far as God is concerned. Decide to farm that potential well.