For the past sixteen months, I have been looking for new employment. (See Desperate for a New Start in the New Year, Fiery Trials, and Grief.) It has been quite a journey, filled with disappointment and wonderful opportunity to seek God. I lost count, but think I applied for about 1,500 jobs. In addition, I post my resume on employment and ministry websites. I contacted every district in the denomination in which I serve multiple times. I did have some success, earning my insurance license, and going off to training to sell health insurance supplements. I attempted to sell insurance twice (see Selling Jesus), failing miserably and losing lots of money. In between those fiascos, I delivered pizza and did dishes. I enjoyed this job, but the tips and salary from twenty hours per week didn’t do much to support my family and pay for the $1,500 in car repairs I incurred. I ended my delivery job to make lots of money in the insurance world (see above).
Throughout this search, I am constantly asked by family and friends the same questions. Rather than answer each of them individually, I thought I would write them down and put them on my blog where people can access them. Here are the questions:
Why can’t you find a pastoral position? I gave my answer in the blog post, The Pastor’s Unforgiveable Sin.
Did you try ______? I heard they were hiring. This is very common. I am so thankful for the input of so many caring people. I pursued EVERY lead I was given, but to no avail.
Have you tried chaplaincy? Yes! I apply to every prison and hospital chaplaincy job in the state (and several out-of-state). I also apply to hospice chaplaincy openings within driving distance. Despite serving as hospital/nursing home chaplain for four years, I do not qualify for hospital chaplaincy because I don’t have the required Clinical Pastoral Education credits. For about one year I pursued an opening in a chaplaincy residency program in Little Rock where I could earn CPE’s, and finally had a terrific interview, but was turned down.
Why not become a substitute teacher? I went through the thorough background checks and training to be a sub, but only received one call in two months to come in, which happened to be on a day when I was not available. I needed something which would better provide for my family, so I went off to sell insurance (see above).
Are you being too picky? I apply for EVERY job opening I see, both part and full-time.
Do you apply for jobs not in Russellville? Yes, but to move it would have to be financially well-worth it. Our current mortgage is cheaper than any rent we could find. Not having income for over a year has resulted in us not having any money to move or pay security deposit and first/last months’ rent. We can’t afford to move. Besides, our girls are at home here.
Have you had anyone teach you interviewing skills? Have you had anyone review your resume? I had experts look at my resume, which is adequate. The problem is, about 95% of the jobs I am applying for require an online application, not a resume. I also listened to critiques of my interviewing ability. I interview well. The last interview was described as “excellent” by the interviewer.
Does Leah get disability? She does not qualify. She does not have enough work credits. We applied several times and have gone through the appeal process. We also sought advice from a law firm that is one of the top disability firms in the state.
Do you receive unemployment? I do not qualify.
Did you receive job retraining? I continue to check into this. My aptitude for welding isn’t very good, so I didn’t go through welding training. Ditto for auto mechanic. My bad eyes, arthritic fingers and shoulder, and feet with non-diabetic neuropathy don’t help. I am attempting some online computer training and all I can say is, “ha, ha!”.
Have you worked with any employment agencies? Yes. I also talked to people at the nearby university and a community college. I often seek help from our local Workforce office.
When I answer these questions, people do not understand why I can’t find a job. This is especially true when companies have signs out front telling the world they are hiring. I don’t understand, either. To be honest, I am tired of explaining my journey, and often feel blamed for what is happening. Obviously, I must be doing something wrong! And I agree with that sentiment, and go home at night battling depression, shame, and feelings of failure. When I talk to people, sometimes I feel I must defend why I can’t get a job! But I don’t have any answers or defense.
This is especially true when I hear of the homeless, addicted, or recently incarcerated finding jobs within three or four months. One teenage girl I know found four jobs in twelve months! I don’t understand.
One thing I learned – More important than your skills and experience is who you know.
Some told me to follow my passions. I still desire to live a life sharing Jesus with others. I am pursuing certification in biblical counseling and life coaching. But I do not see any open doors to walk through to serve in this way at this time.
What is God teaching me? One simple lesson – my identity is not found in my reputation, my education, my background, my vocation, my position, or my ministry – it is found in Christ and Christ, alone. I taught this for years, but now must live it. I don’t have any reputation anymore. My education makes me overqualified. My background doesn’t mean a thing. I currently have no position and no ministry. I am now a nobody. But I have Jesus. And He is enough.