Job Security, Workplace Issues

Job Security Part II

Last week, in Part I of our series, we explored why “job security” is more myth than reality. This week, we’ll begin taking a look at how to handle that reality… beginning with the recognition that nothing in this world is ever quite as secure as we like to fool ourselves into believing it is.  Families break up, the stock market falls, our car blows a tire, terrorists attack, friends come and go, and so do jobs.  The only real security for any of us is the kind that God offers through faith in His Son.

According to the Bible, this sort of security is eternal and totally exclusive of own efforts.  John 10:27-29 says, “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.  So no one can take them from me.”  And in Romans 8:38,39 the apostle Paul declares, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love.  Death can’t, and life can’t.  The angels can’t, and the demons can’t.  Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So how do we know if we have this kind of security?  To begin with, we need to understand that God created us with the desire to be close to us. As with most relationships, that closeness involves love and consideration. Unless you’re an eight-year-old child, you don’t hit someone with whom you hope to develop a good friendship. And unless you really don’t want a relationship with God, you don’t intentionally hurt Him either.

Unfortunately, instead of nurturing our relationship with God, each of us has chosen the route of that eight-year-old. Romans 3:23 states that, “…all have sinned; all fall short.” We’ve chosen to strike God rather than embrace Him. And as much as God would like each of us to be His friend, He isn’t going to force us to do something we don’t want to do.

Rejecting His friendship, however, also means rejecting all of the benefits of that friendship. James 1:17 tells us that, “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father.” (NLT) So in rejecting God, we’re also rejecting everything that’s good. This absence of good is known as “Hell” and the description the Bible gives of this place is not pretty. The Apostle John wrote, “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.  And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done.  And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”  (Revelation 20:12,15) This is eternal separation from God, beyond the reach of His friendship. And it’s a choice we make.

So what happens when we realize that we’ve made the wrong choice? Well, there’s good news… God didn’t quit wanting a relationship with us just because we didn’t want one with Him. In order to make reconciliation possible, He took on human flesh and died on a cross to pay the price that justice demanded. (This would be a bit like a person being convicted of assault… and someone else serving the prison sentence.) All we have to do is accept that gift. Ephesians 2:8,9 states that, “God saved you by his special favor when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

If we’ve accepted that gift, then we have the eternal security we talked about earlier.  Nothing that we or anyone else can do will ever change the fact that we’re Heaven bound!  This free gift, however, effects more than our eternal destination: it plays an important role in how we cope with the insecurities that we experience right here on earth.  Once our relationship with God has been restored, He offers us peace amidst turmoil, patience in the face of injustice, and satisfaction even when we’ve been wronged.  He offers us the grace to handle any situation we encounter either at home, at school, or in the workforce with the confidence and assurance that He is on our side.  And that is security at its best!


Job Security Part I

Ask a random group of people what they hope to gain from their careers and you’re likely to get a wide variety of answers. From developing technical skills to acquiring a sense of personal achievement, we look to our jobs to help fill our hours, pay our bills, and, ultimately, provide security for our families and ourselves.

We want to wake up tomorrow knowing that we have the income necessary to improve our education, start our own business, or put food on the table.  We want to go to sleep each night, knowing that our future is firmly under control: our control.

This is called “Job Security” and it happens to be one of the most widely accepted illusions that our society has to offer.  Why an illusion?  Think about what comes to mind when someone says the word “secure”.  Webster’s dictionary defines the word as “Free from danger, safe; Free from fear and doubt; assured; certain.”

We try to obtain this in our jobs by being reliable workers who give “a day’s work for a day’s pay.”  If we know our trade well (for example, if you can scoop more ice cream faster than any of your peers, have the skills necessary to maintain an efficient freight flow, or the vision to advance your company’s financial interests), we call our job “secure.”

The problem with this is that in each of these cases our “security” is based upon our own efforts.  The real world (not the one we pretend to live in, but the one that actually exists) is like a roller coaster: full of unexpected bumps and the occasional derailment.  Factors beyond our control often affect the stability of our workplace and the surety of our employment, leaving us scrambling for something, anything, to hold on to.

For example: A year and an half after getting my first job, I moved on to my second as a sales-clerk in the seasonal department of a local farm store.  Unlike the hardware store which stayed in business by providing things that people need year-round (like paint, nails, and plumbing parts), a large portion of this particular company’s income came from the merchandise in this seasonal section.  Our selection was constantly changing and, once each year, we’d rearrange everything to make way for the best assortment of winter gear for fifty miles.  We brought in snow blowers, insulated coveralls, shovels, and snow boots.  Half of the warehouse was dedicated to the back-stock on these items and everyone felt secure in knowing that the product was there, ready to sell.  The only problem was that, for the first time in almost 100 years, it didn’t snow!  The store didn’t sell the product and had to pay for storage on the items until the next year rolled around.  The company lost money and, as a result, employee hours were cut.  So much for security.

Yes, you’re thinking, but that was the result of poor human speculation. If I do my part as a worker, then I have nothing to worry about.  Wrong again!  My Dad has a highly enviable job as an aviator (the sort where little kids are constantly asking for his autograph).  He flew helicopters in the Marine Corps and then went on to fly for assorted civilian companies prospecting for oil, fighting forest fires, flying life flight, and even transporting skiers to the tops of inaccessible peaks.  My mother still tells the story of a year when my Dad had done the work he’d agreed to perform, but when it came time for the check to arrive… well, it didn’t.  You see, the owner of the company he was flying for had decided that a permanent off-shore vacation sounded like a great idea.  He disappeared along with all of the company’s funds, leaving my parents without the cash that my Dad had already earned!

These stories serve to illustrate what businessmen refer to as the “dynamic environment”. They are a brief sampling of the competitive, political, economic, legal, technological, and sociocultural forces over which we as individuals have very little control. Sadly, these forces often, have a great deal of control over both us and the jobs from which we sometimes derive our sense of security.

So what do we do when the one thing we look to our jobs to provide doesn’t come through? We’ll take a look at that next week. For now, feel free to share your thoughts on job security in the comment box below!