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After you’ve discovered and prepared for God’s vocational calling in your life, the hard work of landing a job begins. The process of job hunting can be quite overwhelming, and it includes, among other things:
- Researching and approaching employers who have available jobs that match your God-given vocational design.
- Preparing winning resumes and cover letters that attract the attention of your preferred employer(s).
- Getting ready for the interview, which includes preparing great answers to an interviewer’s questions AND preparing your own questions to ask the interviewer. Even if the employer wants you after the interview, you want to make sure you want to work for that employer!
If you’re not careful, you’ll start thinking, “I’ll never be able to get it all done!”, and as you dwell on this thought, you’ll cause yourself anxiety and stress.
God’s Word has many things to say about stress management, and God’s tips on tackling stress are very effective in conquering the anxiety that the job search can bring. Here are four biblically-based steps for beating back that feeling of being overwhelmed by your job search:
- Be Patient
- Work Hard
- Pray for Grit
Step 1: Compartmentalize
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1, KJV
Long before modern society came up with the buzzword “compartmentalize” – which means “to separate (something) into sections or categories” – God taught His creation the value of approaching life in a compartmentalized way. Bound by time and by our finiteness, it is impossible for us to accomplish everything we want to accomplish in one, single moment of time. Yet, so often, our brains attempt to do just that! Considering at the speed of thought all that we must do, we become overwhelmed when we realize we cannot, with the snap of our fingers, do it all at once. We have to train our minds to compartmentalize and to prioritize our projects, and then we need to give focused attention to each goal, task, or responsibility in its proper order and time.
God not only communicated this sentiment through the poetry of Ecclesiastes. He also modeled it for us in the six days of creation. Fully capable of creating everything in an instant, God instead chose to break up the creation project into six compartments, tackling each part of the project in its proper time. In addition, Jesus taught Martha (and, therefore, us) to quit being anxious about all of the stuff we have to do and, instead, focus on the one, most important thing in front of us at the moment.
Want to fight back against that feeling of being overwhelmed by your job search? Then learn how to compartmentalize and to prioritize the steps in the process. First, determine the most important thing you need to accomplish NOW, then spend fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, or sixty minutes to tackle that most important task. Force yourself to avoid thinking or worrying about anything else while you do so. If concern over other things nags at you, pray that God would shoulder those burdens for you while you focus on the most important burden at hand.
Step 2: Be Patient
For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day. – Habakkuk 2:3, Amplified Bible (AMP)
Another one of God’s techniques for overcoming stress is to have an attitude of patience.
Compartmentalization requires that we prioritize our responsibilities, give our current attention to the most important responsibility, and put the rest of them on hold until a later time. We often fail to fully execute the last step, and this is where the stress comes in. We want all of our stuff to be done NOW, and our desire conflicts with the reality we all know too well: we are NOT going to be able to do it all now. We become frustrated and anxious when we can’t have what we want when we want it, and that’s just human nature.
The cure for human nature’s shortfalls is having God’s nature in us, and God’s nature is to be patient. God knows that everything has its appointed time, and He is supernaturally patient in waiting for the appointed time to arrive. We can tap into that same patience by learning to think like God. How do we do that? Well, it’s not easy, but it is simple. We have to walk with Him like Enoch did. We have to desire His Word more than our necessary food, like Job did. We have to talk with Him throughout the day, like Paul did. We have to fellowship with Him so consistently that He transforms our character into the character of His Son. The more our character becomes like Christ’s, the more we will be able to look at things in their eternal context, and the more we’ll understand that most of the things we consider terribly urgent – even those remaining items in our job search – really aren’t.
Read some verses, like Habukkuk 2:3, on patience.* Talk to God about your need for patience, and ask Him to supply you with it. Remember, everything has an appointed time; you just need to be patient until each responsibility’s appointed time arrives.
Step 3: Work Hard
The appetite of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the appetite of the diligent is abundantly supplied. – Proverbs 13:4, Amplified Bible (AMP)
Jerry DeVries, 78, was one of the approximately 1,000 senior citizen experts that Karl Pillemer interviewed for his book 30 Lessons For Living: Tried and True Advise from the Wisest Americans.** As Mr. DeVries reports:
BY THE TIME I was a teenager, I was working on the farm seven days a week when I wasn’t in school, and many days before school and after school. I was a teenager and getting up at four in the morning to milk the cows and feed the cattle, and then going to school at seven thirty, getting out of school at three thirty in the afternoon, and then getting on the school bus and then going back out to the farm and working until after dark. And that’s before you even started studying. I knew what hard work was, and when you’re fifteen or sixteen that’s a pretty good lesson.
Within Mr. DeVries’ life experience we find another of God’s lessons on how to combat that all too familiar feeling of being overwhelmed: work hard to complete the tasks that need to be done.
Sometimes our feelings of being overwhelmed can be tied to allowing, through laziness and/or procrastination, our responsibilities to accumulate to an overwhelming level. Of course, this is by no means the only cause of feeling overwhelmed, for even the most diligent people can find themselves concerned over all that they have to do. But for those who are prone to slothfulness, the work pile often becomes heavy for no other reason than this: the perpetrator chose to play rather than to work.
The cure for this predicament, of course, is to cast off laziness and replace it with diligence. This is easier said than done because bad habits, like slothfulness, are hard to break. But broken they must become, or the job search work pile will get heavier and heavier. Here are two suggestions for breaking the habit of laziness:
- Create some work momentum: Commit to work on your next job search task for just 5 minutes. Very often, once you work for 5 minutes on a task you will find out that it isn’t as awful as you expected. You’ll get into the groove, and before you know it, you’ll have the project finished.
- Reward yourself for completing a task: We dread some job search tasks so much that we need a little incentive to do them. Reward yourself with a prize for completing a job search task that you need to do. It’ll require some discipline to keep away from the prize until the task is done, but if you do, you’ll find yourself working surprisingly hard to earn the reward you seek.
Sometimes that dreadful feeling of being overwhelmed can be conquered by good, old-fashioned hard work. If that’s the cure you need today, then quit putting it off, and get busy!
Step 4: Pray for Grit
Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. – James 1:12, Amplified Bible (AMP)
When the job search becomes overwhelming, it’s tempting just to give up. In order to persevere, we must determine to stay the course, even with things are tough.
Angela Lee Duckworth holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she is now an assistant professor in the psychology department. Duckworth and her team have studied groups of both children and adults in order to determine one thing: what character trait separates those who excel in their environment from those who don’t? Her studies have included:
- Students at West Point Military Academy
- National Spelling Bee contestants
- Rookie teachers working in tough neighborhoods
- Salespeople at private companies
- Students who attend schools in tough neighborhoods
As Duckworth shared in a recent TED Talk, the number one shared trait of the achievers wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks. It wasn’t physical health. It wasn’t IQ. It was grit. According to Duckworth:
Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint…Talent doesn’t make you gritty. Our data shows very clearly that there are many talented individuals who simply do not follow through on their commitments. In fact, in our data, grit is usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent…
Duckworth’s findings reflect what people have known for centuries: hard work and perseverance pay off. For the Christian involved in a career calling job search, having grit is absolutely necessary. When we try to pursue the work that God has given us to do, Satan will fight us tooth and nail. If we don’t have grit, we’ll easily fall off of the path to God’s best.
Where does true grit come from? Interestingly, Duckworth acknowledges in her TED Talk that she doesn’t know where grit comes from. In contrast, the Bible tells us exactly where spiritual grit comes from. It comes from God. As Philippians 2:13 (AMP) states:
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
So, what’s the formula for staying by the stuff during your job search? Have grit for God’s best, but realize that to have it, you must first ask God to supply it. If you ask anything according to His will – and asking for grit to stay the course is absolutely God’s will – then He will hear and grant your request. By asking God to supply the power while you supply the trust, you’ll find grit to be your present possession, and you’ll find your career calling to be your future reward.
Is your job search overwhelming you? If so, compartmentalize and prioritize your job search responsibilities, cultivate an attitude of patience while you search, work long and hard at the job search process, and ask God to give you all of the grit you need to stay the course. If you utilize these four biblically-based stress relievers, you’ll make those anxious job search moments fewer and farther between.
* Go to BibleGateway.com and search by keyword.
** Excerpt From: Pillemer, Karl. “30 Lessons for Living.” PENGUIN group, 2011-08-19. iBooks.
Robbie Romeiser is a commercial real estate broker, real estate instructor, and author of the daily devotional Today’s Quote From God (www.TodaysQuoteFromGod.com). Desiring to help his own children follow God’s calling in their lives, Robbie founded Career Callings (www.CareerCallings.net) to help people find, prepare for, and pursue the work God has called them to do.