Skip to main content

What not to ask an unemployed person



[Note: the following explanation is not rooted in bitterness, and not an attempt to make anyone feel bad. It's simply an explanation of what happens when I get asked about my job search.] 

In November of 2015, the president of my company walked into my office. After 6 1/2 years, during which I was hired as a database administrator/programmer, promoted to manager, and then to Director, I was being let go. I didn't do anything wrong; the owner simply felt we had too many people in IT, and my position was eliminated. As I write this in March 2016, I'm in my 5th month of searching for work. 

The worst thing about being unemployed

The list of reasons that unemployment is undesirable is a long one. Surprisingly, "lack of revenue" isn't on top of the list.  No, the hardest part of my life as an unemployed person right now is having to deal with the all things said by concerned, well-intentioned people who see me regularly, particularly at church. 

Sundays are the hardest. I'm starting to dread going to church, because by Sunday afternoon, I will have shaken 50 or so hands, and at least 45 of those handshakes have been accompanied by "So, how's the job search going?", followed by "so, do you have any leads?"

Constant reminders, followed by lies
Every one of those handshakes is a reminder that I am jobless, during the one time a week when I come to a place (a sanctuary, if you will) where I am supposed to focus on God and think about eternal things, and to forget about the cares of this world.

Every time I am asked those two questions, there's an enemy who takes the opportunity to whisper in my ear that I'm a loser, to remind me that I was rejected by my employer of 6 years. 

I know it's a lie, but you try hearing a lie 50 times every Sunday. Your response may surprise you. 

When I am asked about leads or "have you had any interviews?" I am reminded that I have, on multiple occasions, dressed up for an interview, talked for an hour with an employer about why I would be a good fit for them, only to endure additional rejection a few days later as they let me know they chose someone else. 

My identity
Every time I am asked how the job search is going, it perpetuates the idea that my identity is "jobless guy." I am a lot of other things: husband, dad, homegroup leader, Little League coach. But nobody asks me how my team is doing, or how my homegroup is going. I just get asked about that one aspect of my life which makes me feel lowest right now. 

I'd much rather talk about the successes:
-I have 3 great kids. I have a lovely wife.
-Once or twice a week, I get a chance to pray for 11 kids at the end of baseball practice or game.
-I had an amazing experience last week where God spoke to me about how to pray for someone.
-Another time recently, I saw something when reading Scripture, only to be asked a question by a good friend the next day, and I was able to share with him what God said in His word, which turned out to be exactly what that guy needed to hear.
-  My family was recently given a family vacation in Washington DC, a place I have longed to take my kids, and it's going to be essentially free.

There are so many victories in my life worth asking about, which should drown out the deep sorrow I have about my employment status, but the Sunday morning questions just keep on reminding me, over and over, that my employer doesn't want me there anymore. 

I'm not bitter, and not trying to make anyone feel bad. I am communicating this to people because, frankly, I'd want to know if my well-intentioned words were problematic to anyone in any way. This post is simply an FYI; an attempt to enlighten. 

Feel free to pray for my job situation. I'm just asking you not to make it the only thing you talk to me about when you see me. 

So now you know now what not to ask next time you shake my hand. Thanks for listening. 

Comments

Jane Stage said…
Thank you for this James. I've been there, having been let go after 12 yrs on a job and understand how this feels. It can be so defeating and draining. I'm glad you are focusing on the victories! Have fun in Washington DC! We are all rooting for Jacob-especially Libby :)

Popular posts from this blog

Beyond the door greeter: The most important contribution of Tim Wright

My sons Jacob and Zachary have baseball cards. Hundreds of them. They like to spend time with them, because the cards feed two of their passions: baseball and numbers. They organize and re-organize the cards. They play fictional baseball games, complete with playoffs, with them. Most important, they show the cards off to their friends. Even adults who come over to the house are likely to be introduced to the baseball cards collection by my sons.
I have a friend named Frank. He's retired, and is an expert woodworker. Visitors to his house will be treated to the tour: he loves to show you the gorgeous cherrywood rocking horse, the grandfather clock, and countless other items he has made out of wood. They're all quite beautiful; very impressive. It's Frank's passion, and he loves to share what he has done with others.


For the last 15 years, I have had a friend named Tim Wright. His title was Pastor of Small Groups and Assimilation. We all know what a small group is, but &…

Them Dents is Valuable

I guess I am spoiled, but for a Pixar film, "Cars 2" falls a little short, if only because the bar has been set insanely high by the quality of recent masterpieces such as "Toy Story 3" and "Up".  Any comparison of "Cars 2" with other recent Pixar output just isn't fair.

Quality aside, "Cars 2" hardly seemed like a sequel. The tone, the look, and the feel are very different from "Cars". Additionally, the plot was hard to follow and a little convoluted.

Despite the flaws, this film had one shining moment; one profound line in a decidedly non-profound movie, and it was delivered by Tow Mater.

Mater, you may recall, is a tow truck who's in dire need of mechanical attention. He has a missing hood, several dents, and rust issues. He's also a lovable doofus, lacking anything that resembles sophistication.

At one point in the movie, British secret agents decide to bring Mater into their plans to catch the bad guys and sa…

Why Bethke Gets it Wrong

If you know any Christians, or are one yourself, you may have seen Jefferson Bethke's 4-minute poem titled "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus".  It's become quite popular in just a few days. Bethke is sincere, passionate, and mostly off-track.  


The bulk of his message is that old standby "It's not about religion, it's about a relationship", which has been around at least since I  came back to the Lord in 1987. It was refreshing and eye-opening at the time, but here we are a quarter-century later, and it's still being said as if it were a brand new concept.And that would be fine if it were in line with Scripture, but in fact, it's in opposition to what God's word says.

I have searched the Bible to see where it says anything negative about Religion, and it isn't in there. It's fairly easy to find a passage where the writer denounces those following a false religion, or not following their religion well. But the concept of …