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Work Worries and Woes: What Can You Do in an Uncertain Job Market?

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Work Worries and Woes

What Can You Do in an Uncertain Job Market?

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The events of 9/11 have sharply focused our attention on the fragility of the world economy and the way that events can change the course of history. The incredible pace of new technology has already changed life more than we can imagine. The world has always changed, but perhaps never as quickly as it is now. On the other hand, we are also far better equipped to function within the changes—if we understand that changes will come, accept them and "learn to swim."

Don't Worry

Matthew 6:25 gives us some good advice. It may seem hard to follow, but it is valuable advice. Simply stated—don't worry. Worrying causes anxieties. It causes stress, which has a direct effect on our performance. It hampers us from doing our best in any given situation. That does not mean we should not be concerned and be prepared for changes, but it does mean we must not allow ourselves to fume and fuss until we become miserable and depressed. We can take our cares to God in prayer and leave them there as we put our hands and hearts to the task of solving problems.

Luke 14:28 advises us to "count the cost" before we start to build, so as to be sure we can complete our projects. That, too, is good advice because many problems and anxieties arise when people have stretched their budgets far too tightly. If we live in such a way that the slightest interruption to our income will plunge us into desperate straits, then we are not living wisely. Proverbs 30:25-26 advises us to go to the ants and rock badgers for examples of preparation and action. Financial advisers will tell you to stay out of debt if you possibly can and pay your credit cards off each month.

Changing World of Work

Years ago, there was a much greater stability to companies and industries. Much has changed and, where loyalty and service was of high value in the past, the quick-moving technology and changing business concepts seem to demand a new approach. Companies are scrambling to keep afloat in this changing world, and employees, too, are caught up in the melee. We now are affected by whatever goes on all over the world. That which seemed so certain a few decades ago has suddenly become uncertain.

There are some sound actions that an employee can take to ensure job stability. There are actions that can be taken to become more employable. The key is to continue to understand the times we live in and to be willing to make the needed changes. For God's people that should be easy, because we have all learned to make huge changes in our lives. We are growing in grace and knowledge spiritually, and that principle of continued growth works just as well physically. Standing still and not moving will ensure that one is left in the dust. We need to get on the train and stay on it.

Tips to Increase Your Job Security

The Wall Street Journal printed an article by Joann S. Lublin in December that gave some good advice. It is not new advice, but it is sound. The job market does not need to be volatile to make this advice worthwhile—it makes good sense at any time. In this article, I will use the points given in the Wall Street Journal (altered a bit) and add a few thoughts.

• Struggle to get yourself into a solvent financial position so that you are not threatened by every change of the "wind." You may need to save money and tighten your belt to do that. We are bombarded with ads telling us how much we deserve a vacation in some exotic place, a new car, a new house or new furniture. Credit cards can make our financial controls difficult to handle. Fight the temptation to overspend.

• Avoid anger, paralysis and panic. Ecclesiastes 10:20 advises us not to curse the king or say negative things because a "bird" may take your words to the boss. Fear and anxiety can lead to comments that make an employee expendable. "Jittery employees often quit at the first sign of an upcoming layoff. That may be a mistake," warns Linda R. Dominguez.

• Put time and effort into concentrating on the important tasks that will show you can adapt and are a valuable employee. Be sure your work is on time and well done. I just read about a young man who was hired as a security guard, but also made it his personal work to pick up litter that was lying around. Someone in charge saw this action and he was promoted. He now holds a very important job with the firm.

• Examine yourself to see if you are wasting time or effort in your job. Talking too much with others and taking extended coffee breaks are noticed by bosses who are concerned about efficiency. Take a good look at your dress and working habits—can you improve? Psalm 26:2 reveals David's request for God to examine him and test him. David wanted to know where he could improve. Paul tells us to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28). The principles that apply spiritually also work physically.

• Explore alternative career paths. This may seem like a contradiction to working hard for a company, but the advice when taken properly is a sign of a person who is thinking. Hope and plans for the future are vital to performance. Further education and training could make you more valuable in your present career or job, and it can open new doors for you when you are ready. Some people start a whole new career when they retire. They start to do something they have long wanted to do. Some are very successful financially and in terms of contentment and inner peace. The Wall Street Journal article says, "Plot out a contingency plan." Some may think a person who does this already has a foot outside the door and is disloyal. That is emotional and faulty thinking. Mental health is enhanced by hopes and dreams of a future we want.

• Intensify your networking efforts. "Get involved with your professional organization right now—before you get laid off," suggests Lara Nolen from Dallas. In the past some Church members have shied away from involvement with professional organizations. Though our involvement may be a little limited, we ought to be part of what is going on. We need to know people and have contacts all over.

• Maintain a positive attitude. "Kick up your exercise program a little bit," recommends Marilyn Moats Kennedy from Wilmette, Illinois. Paul gives this advice when he tells Timothy that bodily exercise profits a little (1 Timothy 4:8). Remember that Paul wrote in the days when people walked everywhere. This advice is even more profitable in our day. We probably sit more than any generation before us. We need to get our bodies in motion.

Paul also advised his beloved Philippians to meditate and think positive thoughts (Philippians 4:8). This is not burying one's head in the sand, but it is maintaining a positive frame of mind that allows us to react with precision, accuracy and strength in all situations of life. A positive-minded person is invaluable in any workplace. Many humans mope and moan when things go wrong in life. They become helpless in the face of a crisis when action is needed. It really has to do with our frame of mind. We have a strong will that God placed in each of us—we only need to use that and the mind He gave us.

None of these points will guarantee that your job and career will always be there for you. Changes will come in many areas of life and we all need to change along with what our society and industries demand.

Focusing first and foremost on the Kingdom of God keeps us all in a positive frame of mind and that is one great blessing God gives to us all—the promise of Jesus' return and peace and abundance on earth for all. That will also be a time of good and healthy progress and change.

What a wonderful blessing we have in the understanding God has given to us all. Our hope is anchored on the sure word of His promises. Habakkuk 3:17-19 voices the thoughts of God's people down through the ages. Our hope is not in the physical things of this earth only—it is mainly on Jesus Christ our elder brother and Savior. Habakkuk says:

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills." UN