Many of you reading this are involved in a job search or career transition of some kind. A job search is hard work. It takes preparation, stamina, a great deal of effort – and perhaps most of all, perseverance. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines perseverance as a “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Does the latter part of that definition sound familiar? Are you encountering difficulties in your search? Have you not yet had the successful outcomes – in terms of leads, meetings, interviews, offers – that you thought you would have attained by now? Does it seem at times as if the whole world – or at least the whole employment marketplace – is somehow aligned against you?
If you are experiencing these challenges, how are you responding to them? Are you considering just giving up? That is actually a perfectly normal, human reaction to the frustrations many job seekers experience. But is that what you should do?
“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” That quote is attributed to Elbert Hubbard, a turn of the 20th Century writer, philosopher, and artist who, along with his wife and some 1,200 other souls, perished when the passenger ship RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in 1915. Hubbard led a productive life, wrote several books, and made contributions to the arts and to philosophy. It would be difficult to argue, however, that he is anything more than a relatively obscure figure in history. And yet somehow, more than 100 years after his death, this quote survives him.
What is it about the expression “never give up” – and others like it – that resonates throughout history? Winston Churchill, who led Great Britain through World War II and is considered one of the greatest statesmen in history, was also one of the most prolific writers and speakers of all time. He gave over 3,000 speeches during his public career, most of which he wrote himself. He wrote over 40 books, consisting of some 70 volumes, and penned countless position papers, letters, memoranda, and newspaper and magazine columns. One biographer estimates that Churchill wrote a staggering total of 20 million words. Yet many would argue that the most memorable of all of those words were these four, with which he concluded his speech to Parliament on June 4, 1940, calling the nation to an all-out effort in the coming struggle against the Nazi war machine: “We shall never surrender!” Notice his use of the word “we.” He is not saying, “Don’t you surrender.” He is saying that he is going to jump into the boat with them and grab an oar, and they will all sink or swim together.
“Never give up” is very easy advice to give to someone else, but not that easy to follow. In many years as a professional recruiter, I counseled literally hundreds of men and women involved in a career transition or considering one. To those who were struggling I gave that advice many times. If the truth were told, I would often ask myself, “If our roles were reversed, would I follow that advice? Would I continue the struggle and never give up?”
Do you think God wants you to give up? The Bible, which is God’s words, is filled with examples of men and women who encountered great adversity and never gave up. They had faith in God and that faith sustained them. God never promised them – nor does He promise us – that there will be no challenges or adversity in life. He does, though, promise us that He will provide what we need to get through. One of the greatest examples of perseverance in the face of adversity shown to us in the Bible is the Apostle Paul. In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul tells the Corinthians:
24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (2 Cor 11:24-27)
If anyone had an excuse to give up, it was Paul. And yet he never gave up. It is a good thing he didn’t because he was the single person most responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout the known world in the 1st century. Was he able to do this because he was an unusually strong person physically? Paul actually writes about the true source of his strength in another letter, this one to the Philippians. In that letter, he tells the church in Philippi that he has learned how to survive, to press on – yes, even to thrive – not only in times of plenty but also in times of want. How can he do this? He answers that question with this remarkable statement of faith: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13).
God is the source of the strength that we will need if we are going to persevere in times of great difficulty. As Christians, we have the benefit of a supernatural power, the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. In your job search, draw on that power. Here are a few specific things you can do:
· Pray and ask God to lead you to the job opportunity that He has planned for you. Prayer really changes things. Jesus’ brother James tells us in his letter, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
· Become active in a church, a community of faith. There you will find support and teaching and a community of like-minded brothers and sisters who will encourage and pray for you as you search for a job.
· Take advantage of all of the resources offered by the WorkFaith Connection. This is a Christian organization with a long track record of helping people not only find work but experience life change.
· Find a mentor, a coach, a friend who will come alongside and undergird you in your job search. If you aren’t sure whom to ask, pray that God will bring that person into your life and place a call upon his or her heart – a person who will jump in the boat with you and grab an oar, a person who will be your Winston Churchill, who will say, “We shall never surrender.”
Restating and paraphrasing the words of Elbert Hubbard quoted above, you have only failed in your job search if you simply quit before you find the job that God has prepared for you. Do not be discouraged or disheartened and, above all, never give up. Ours is a God of the best kind of surprises. Just when you least expect it, you will experience a breakthrough and He will lead you into the next chapter of your life.
Author: Houghton Hutcheson
Houghton Hutcheson recently retired after nearly 40 years as a professional recruiter and is in the early stages of launching a second career as a Christian coach. He holds a Master of Biblical and Theological Studies degree from Dallas Theological Seminary plus two earlier degrees from the University of Texas and Princeton University. Houghton is an Elder at First Presbyterian Church of Houston and a long-time volunteer at a variety of Christian ministries throughout the city, including WorkFaith. Houghton has been married to Claudia Talley Hutcheson for 44 years and together they have five adult sons and five grandchildren.