Testimony of Raymond’s job loss and journey to healing, provided by John Luse, Director of Frisco Connect Job Networking Group at Stonebriar Community Church
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
When people are “laid off” as part of a reduction in force, emotions can run rampant. Sometimes a company uses the term “retired early.” Unless the human relations department is really in tune with the employees, being removed from employment because of corporate issues can be devastating. Both job severance methods mentioned usually come when the job market is at its worse and leaves those affected reeling with the pain of abandonment and injustice. After the initial shock subsides, panic about financial or retirement insecurity takes hold.
I became aware of financial insecurity forty-some years ago after graduating from college. My life lesson occurred when I had the opportunity to attend the Offshore Technology Conference. It was a oilfield equipment show with lots of glitz and excitement.
On Sunday, the man that I had traveled with to the conference met up with a friend of his at the Second Baptist morning worship service. His friend invited us to lunch, and while outside his home admiring his landscape, our host commented that “his biggest mistake was retiring at the age of 56.” Being polite, but thinking he was old and delusional, I asked why was that a mistake.
He had been a middle level executive with an insurance company during his career, had all the actuary tables with life expectancy at his disposal, and calculated to the dollar how much money he needed to maintain the family lifestyle until he would die. However, he said God had already chosen for him to live 15 years past the actuary table and he saw no immediate reason to believe he would pass on any time soon.
He pointed at his house and said it was owned either by a bank for loans or the state for back property taxes. I was a little shocked, but on entering his house for lunch, all that was visible in the first three rooms was a dining room table and six straight-backed chairs. Nothing else. This image became ingrained in my mind, and I vowed to myself to never let that happen to me. I would commit to my employers and never leave a job that was providing for my livelihood. At the time, I didn’t realize that many things prevent us from fulfilling our commitments. Ecclesiastes 9:1 The most we can do is work with absolute truth and let God manage the unpredictable.
Even though I didn’t intend to leave a position, I have needed to change employment four times so far during my career, and God has always seen me through these times. The first job provided a comfortable lifestyle but degraded slowly and I didn’t know why. My family also noticed. Slowly, we never seemed to be able to cover all the bills. We weren’t extravagant, but inflation took over my cash flow, and we could only buy essential home items; we didn’t even buy potato chips because they didn’t fit the definition of essential. I still think about luxury every time I eat a chip.
We finally decided that I needed to leave this first job, and finding a new job proved to be very easy. Regrettably, I did carry a grudge for years against my first employer who either deliberately or ignorantly let employee lifestyle erode without doing something about it.
I went to work for a major oil company that valued qualified and talented people. We were happy, and I thought I would never leave this new corporation. It was one of the seven largest publicly traded oil companies in the world. However, slowly the corporation started making bad decisions, and most of the technical staff over 40 became expendable. I was considered exceptional and missed several rounds of layoffs, but after 17 years of service, I did get caught up in the fourth major round of manpower adjustments that came in the midst of merger negotiations. Being without a job was professionally degrading and left me an emotional wreck. I didn’t cry in front of my children, but the pain was so great that it was hard to get up in the morning.
God found my next job, as I couldn’t do it on my own at the time. I shook during some of the interviews and never could fully understand the roles being discussed. No offers were made, and, looking back, I see that was God keeping me from accepting bad positions. All these companies were bankrupt within a year after my interviews.
I knew that I was overqualified for the job I did land, but my emotions stabilized rapidly in my new role. The firm liked me and continually increased my responsibility with longer work hours. We needed the money my children’s college and other bills, so I never questioned any assignment. The cash was good, but I was putting my health at risk by working too many hours and not taking any breaks. Even with all my effort, the services I performed for seven years were no longer needed by anyone in the industry.
God took control again and immediately placed me in a new company that seemed very vibrant, but low oil prices eventually crippled it after six years. Only the very young workers kept their jobs, and this time I was left feeling that I would never work again.
My wife spotted bulletin announcement at church for a group called Reach Up Reach Out and encouraged me to attend. Pastor Steve Fischer and John Luse held me accountable and worked with me at our weekly meetings. This support was also amplified at Frisco Connect. The sting of joblessness and finances slowly transformed to acceptance of long-term life expectations. Continuing to work is still important to me and after a one and a half year break, I am now re-employed only by the will of God.