So how’s your business been doing lately? Not so well? Trying to start a new business and not getting any traction? Got a great idea, but no one is buying? Lose your job and haven’t found another yet? Are your resumes going unanswered? Starting to feel unfulfilled, useless, a bit of a slug? Stressing about not doing your part to support your family? Are you feeling like you aren’t making a difference, haven’t made a difference, aren’t ever going to make a difference? Have you “hit the wall” and don’t know how to break through?
I’ve been there, more than once.
I know this may seem like a departure from the professed purpose of this blog, making your business a ministry, but the business starts with you, and you need to be in the right place physically, mentally, and spiritually to fulfill God’s plan for you and for your business. You may be starting from right here.
I started writing this piece three years ago, when I was there. Regardless of the measure of your success or lack thereof you might feel this way. Think of it as a period of doubt, a slip of self-confidence, or hey, a mid-life crisis. You don’t have them just once when you hit forty, or when you lose your job. You can have them at any point in your life.
Maybe you just hit thirty and your education doesn’t seem to be taking you where you thought it would. Or your passion is fading for the dream job you landed and held on to through the recession. Maybe you just turned fifty and that third career change since high school is losing its luster. Maybe you’re fifty-something, just got laid off, and it looks like thinly veiled age-discrimination. Maybe you’re approaching sixty five and not ready to contemplate the “end” of your work life.
Maybe what is really happening is that you’re experiencing a crisis of faith; your faith is being tested and you’re not taking steps to build it up, you’re letting your circumstances tear it down. Do you believe that God has a plan for you and that you really can figure it out? Are you worshipping? Are you studying? Are you serving? Are you witnessing? Or are you so defeated that you find yourself chained to your desk or the sofa, slipping into hopelessness, or just paralyzed and unable to act?
When I know my faith is being tested I start examining what I’m doing to build it up. This was my faith to action inventory:
- I’m worshipping but not enough
- I’m praying but not enough
- I’m studying but not enough
- I’m giving but not enough
- I’m serving, just a little
- I’m witnessing, but only by very limited example
I obviously had some work to do. But, despite my crisis of faith, I still believed that provided I was living out His plan for me, He would provide for me and I had no need to fear what was to come. I also knew that (Philippians 4:13) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” No matter how little faith I felt I had, these things I knew without doubt.
You may be asking, “So what do I do next?” Well, I tackled the question of what His plan was for me by practicing a little discernment (which, by the way, I’m not very good at). My approach started with an inventory of spirit gifts, talents on loan from God, useful experiences and available resources. It continued with some soulful searching for my current passions (I’ve discovered that for me they change over the years) and a lot of prayer.
While I’m going through this discernment process, I’m taking advantage of financial resources that are available to me and trying to get and remain debt free. Are you eligible for unemployment? Can you start drawing social security benefits without hurting your long term retirement plan? Are there other financial resources you can draw on?
Maybe your situation includes no current income and is becoming dire, dare I say desperate? What are you going to do?
If you’re in dire financial straits I realize that can be hard; but as Dave Ramsey points out there are lots of things you can do; deliver pizzas, flip burgers, deliver newspapers; you get the idea, open your eyes and get creative. The Good Lord will provide as long as you remain open to opportunities as they present themselves. It may not be the long term answer but it may get you past the immediate financial need.
But let’s not forget about faith. Sometimes to have faith means living as if you have it, going through the motions, even when you’re not feeling it; when you’re wondering if He is even out there walking with you or carrying you.
Are you open to letting others help you? Are you open to letting Him help you? I think it’s false to think that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. I think He often gives us more than we can handle. It’s those times when He expects us to lean on others and our faith in Him to muddle through.
Now you’re asking, “So where does all of this activity get me?” In my experience it gets me to a clear understanding of what God’s plan is for my life at this point in it. With that clarity I can claw my way out of hopelessness. I can rebuild my faith. I can begin to identify opportunities to live out that plan whether it is to find a job, start a business, retire to a life of volunteer opportunities, shift vocations and start a new career, care for family; the possibilities are endless. If I can see opportunities, I can be open to His call. I just need to be able to see them, and I can’t unless my eyes are opened to God’s plan for me.
Don’t let being out of work convince you that you’re out of faith too; that you’re running on empty. Faith is like fumes in your gas tank; they can be explosive; so can faith. All it takes is a little introspection and discernment to break out, to light that fuse, and ride the explosion into a whole new realm of living.
Keeping the faith …Terry