Helping Others Cope With Job Loss
January 17, 2007 • By Randy Kilgore
With layoffs and business failures so prevalent today, how should the church and we as individual Christians respond to people in our midst affected by these events? Marketplace Network recommends consideration of some or all of the following steps.
- Stay in touch. Avoid the temptation to stay away from them. Like Job’s friends before they opened their mouths, your mere presence strengthens that worker. If they are a believer, you are sharing their burden; if they aren’t, you’re also exhibiting a powerful testimony to the love of Christ in you.
- Be present, but be as silent as possible. Resist the urge to offer advice, especially opinions about why this is happening to you. One Christian wrote these words, “Once when I lost my job, a Christian in the work force asked me what unconfessed sin was in my life that was causing God to do this to me.” Clearly, sin carries consequences, but it is presumptuous at best for any of us to suggest that a particular disaster is happening because of sin. That was one of the mistakes Job’s friend’s made, and it’s an extremely common mistake made by Christians to each other. Except in rare circumstances, it’s difficult if not impossible to know why this is happening in a person’s life, and to pretend to know is at best foolishness, and at worst, sinful. The comfort of presence is damaged by a loose tongue. Be there, but be silent.
- Meet physical needs as God instructs you. When someone loses their job, there often are real physical hardships which present themselves. Many times job loss catches people at times when they can least afford it, and alert Christians can find silent, tangible ways to reach out.
- Pray, and make your prayers known. Nothing is more comforting than hearing someone tell you they are praying for you and your circumstances and knowing they mean it. Don’t just pray for people, let them know you are doing it. While this may seem to fly in the face of “praying in a closet”, the reason you’re doing this is to help them feel less isolated, and to encourage them by letting them know their needs are being presented to the King of Kings.
- Avoid making judgments. You may think you know why this happened, and you may think you know the lessons that are to be learned, but unless you get a clear, prophetic nudging from the Lord, you should keep you opinions to yourself. EVEN IF ASKED! Your best answer to very nearly every question about the whys of a certain event are “I don’t know.”
- Finally, you must work to affirm the person without denying the reality of the situation. People know when they’re being patronized, and they know when they’re being truly affirmed. Be the affirmer.
Perhaps none of the advice is more important than a remembrance of the mistakes of Job’s friends. They served best in their silent presence, and did the most harm when they sought to make assessments on their own about why this was happening to their friend.