14 August 2018

Feeling Stressed? Take Dr. Rahe’s Test


Richard H. Rahe, M.D.

Feeling stressed? Today you will have the opportunity to take Dr. Rahe’s test while you are in the midst of a life-changing event.

You can estimate your risk of having a stress-related illness or accident using a calculator developed by Richard H. Rahe, M.D., a world-renowned expert on stress-related illness. The test assigns a measurement called a Life Change Unit (LCU) to events – positive and negative – that cause stress. The higher your LCU total, the greater your risk of a stress-related illness or accident within the coming year.

Here are the top 10 (out of 55) life change events:

  1. Death of a child
  2. Death of a spouse
  3. Death of parent or sibling
  4. Divorce
  5. Separation from spouse due to marital difficulties or work
  6. Being held in jail
  7. Loss of your job
  8. An illness or injury that was very serious
  9. Death of a close friend
  10. Pregnancy

Notice that four of the 10 have to do with the death of a loved one or friend; as difficult as they are, they don’t reflect on who you are as a person. One (pregnancy) is good news, and one (jail) probably hasn’t happened to most of the people who read this newsletter. Of the top 10 life change events, divorce and job loss represent the two biggest attacks on a person’s ego.

In Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs tells the story of two friends who battled cancer and won. Both men soon found themselves unemployed. One said, “I was never depressed when dealing with cancer and possibly dying, but when I left my work, which was my identity, I went into a depression that was like nothing I had ever experienced before.” Are there things worse than job loss? Absolutely; but being unemployed is one of the toughest spiritual battles you will ever face.

If you are looking for a job you may feel you’ve had your ego attacked by your former employer, by prospective employers who’ve chosen someone else over you, and by potential networking partners who’ve refused to help you. You may be experiencing financial difficulties, you may have lost contact with close friends you used to work with, you may have lost the structure in your day and your week and don’t know what to do, and you may be facing the prospect of moving to a distant city in order to find a meaningful position. Your LCU score may be very high.

Who can relate to what I’m talking about here?

You’ve gone through a lot. You may go through more. When it rains, it pours. Problems compound. It seems there is no hope. Now your health is on the decline. Doctors have long recognized that stress can trigger a range of illnesses, from backache and headache to gastrointestinal problems, a weak immune system and heart attacks.

How much stress are you under? To access the test, click here. Go to “Products” and choose “A Recent Life Changes Stress Test.” They charge $5; it used to be $1. No joke. I can show you my credit card bill! If you just want to read more, click here for an article about a similar study that involved Rahe and another psychiatrist.

Over a one-year period, a life change score of 450 or higher means not only that several life changes have occurred, but also that some of these changes had very high stress values. This high recent life change stress load is called a “life crisis.” Two out of three people experiencing a life crisis will develop one or more illnesses, or have an accident, during the following year.

In January 2004, my score was 558. During the preceding six months I’d gotten divorced, bought a condo, lost my primary source of income, and started a business. You may have guessed that I also experienced financial difficulties. I also suffered a broken or dislocated rib when I slid head first into third base during a softball game; I got divorced in the morning (12 years ago last month) and broke my rib the same evening. Since I was more than 100 points above 450, Dr. Rahe would say that I had a 75% chance of illness or injury in 2004. Praise the Lord I made it through in one piece; I did have a bike wreck that December, but was unhurt. My current life change score is more than 500 points lower.

By the way, life change events are not the only things that put stress on our minds, bodies and spirits. We need to take steps to guard our hearts from persistent, long-term stressors as well. I’ll address this topic in two weeks.

You can learn three things from my experience:

1. You are in temporary state.

As it was for me, the good news is that most people do not remain in a life crisis for more than a year or two. That’s because subsequent illnesses and accidents demand your attention and you begin to cultivate important stress management and lifestyle coping capabilities. There is a purpose in your suffering. I am reminded of James’ words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4

2. You have choices; be proactive.

To decrease the length and severity of your temporary state, you must do something! Get out of bed and come to JobSeekers; I did in 2004 – and I was the leader! I came to bless others, and I received a blessing myself. Being proactive gives you a sense of control. Even more important than JobSeekers is the decision you make about the spiritual perspective you will have on your job search and your journey through life. Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

3. You matter to God.

No matter what happens to you in life, no matter what you do or what you’ve done in life, your heart matters to God. He loves you and he wants the best for you. He can take the shattered crystal and broken glass in your life and turn it into a beautiful stained glass window. God promises to work for the good of those who love him: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Later in the same chapter Paul says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39

In a devotional at JobSeekers a few years ago, John Hobbs, Pastor of Care Counseling at Crossroads Church in Newnan, used Habakkuk 3:17-18: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Friends, God loves us even when the rain falls. God loves us even when the floods start rising. God loves us even when the storms come. In fact, we are washed by His cleansing water during the most difficult days of our lives. (Adapted from the lyrics of “Washed by the Water” by NEEDTOBREATHE.)

How are you going to respond to God’s call during this significant life change event?

See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!

Copyright © 2005-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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    What it Means to be World-Class

    I remember watching the 2012 Olympics in London and thinking about what it means to be world-class. Michael Phelps won the 19th medal of his Olympic career. It’s a staggering number. The U.S. women’s gymnastics team won their first gold medal since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, all five women, who ranged in age from 15 to 17, said they decided they would compete in the Olympics during the 2004 Games in Athens. Kyla Ross was only seven at the time.

    They dedicated eight years of their lives to winning the gold. Yes, half their lifetime. One young lady, McKayla Maroney, had developed a special talent for the vault. Even among the world’s very best vaulters, she soared two feet higher than any other competitor. One night she was perfection and grace and beauty in motion – so much so that one judge’s mouth dropped wide open. The analysts were shocked when she did not receive a perfect score.

    My Peachtree Road Race experience.

    I never aspired to be a world-class athlete, but I thought I was a pretty fast runner. In fact, in my junior year of high school, I was the fastest cross country runner in a school with 2000+ students. In my first Peachtree Road Race I placed 193rd. If you are wondering how I did so well in the world’s largest 10 kilometer race, you should probably know there were only 1159 participants that year. Now there are 60,000.

    The next year I ran my best time, 39:40. That’s a six-and-a-half minute mile. Six of ‘em in a row.

    This was so long ago that the race finished in downtown Atlanta at Central City Park. I remember standing at the base of the Trust Company Bank building, hunched over, hands on knees, sucking air as fast as I could, and feeling elated about my excellent time. I looked up and saw Chase Van Valkenburg casually standing nearby with his hands on his hips. Chase was the fastest cross country runner in DeKalb County. In fact he holds some Georgia high school records to this day. By the way, can you be a runner and have a better name than “Chase Van Valkenburg?”

    “Hey Chase, Dave O’Farrell, Southwest DeKalb. How’d you do?” I ask while gasping for air.

    “Not so good. How’d you do?” He asks.

    “Fantastic; 39:40!” I say.

    “Oh, I ran 34:20.” He replies.

    Ouch. Crashed and burned. In a six-mile race, Van Valkenburg beat me by a mile. But the fastest guy in the state finished a mile behind Don Kardong, whose winning time was 29:14. Now that’s world class.

    Come to think of it, I lost that six-mile race by two miles. Can you say, “embarrassing?”

    The course record was established in Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic year, by Joseph Kimani of Kenya at 27:01. Amazing.

    Your job search experience.

    In job search, the number of competitors for a single job may be 1159 people. You don’t want to come in 193rd. This week one of our clients said he beat out 45 other candidates for a job. That’s pretty good. Even better when you consider this gentleman had a stroke about a year ago. Al beat the odds with his faith, his hard work, and his preparation. He didn’t have a pity party. He didn’t make excuses. He went all out and won the one job he needed to provide for his family. Congratulations Al!

    Be like Al. Have faith. Work hard. Prepare yourself. Beat the odds. Win the job.

    Gene Griessman interviewed some of the most successful people of the 20th century and recorded those conversations in his book, “The Achievement Factors.” He started his chapter on competence with Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus said, “I don’t think talent is as important as the work and dedication necessary to become competent. A lot of guys out there are more talented than I am, and through the years we’ve passed them all by.”

    Chase Van Valkenburg might have been more talented that I was, but I would have passed him by if he had not put in the hard work and dedication necessary to be the best in the county.

    I still enjoy running. In fact, I ran three miles before sitting down to write this article. I have chosen not to dedicate myself to being the best runner in my age group. In fact, when I go running with my best friend from high school and cross country teammate, Ted Wansley, these days, we start off nice and slow – and then we taper off from there.

    My passion now is helping people win jobs. I’ve dedicated the past 24 years to perfecting my craft. Nicklaus told Griessman that, even after winning multiple major championships, he was still trying to perfect his game. I look at résumés I wrote 10 years ago and say, “Who wrote this junk?” After all, I’d only been writing résumés for 14 years at the time.

    Think about all the seven-year-old gymnasts who decided in 2004 they are going to compete in the Olympics one day. How did Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber win the gold when tens of thousands of other girls didn’t even make it to the games?

    Do what they did: work at the craft of finding a job, perfect your skills, overcome your weaknesses and fears, play to your strengths – and then leave the results confidently to God.

    See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we are becoming world-class job seekers every week!

    Copyright © 2012-2018 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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      10 Things That Drive a Career Coach Crazy

      career coach


      Think he’s gonna hit it?

      We’ve seen some great successes lately. People who practice what I teach are finding jobs really fast. On the other hand, people who don’t practice what I teach are driving me crazy. I told one client last week to plan for a two or three-year job search. In this post I will share my list of 10 things that drive a career coach crazy.

      Don’t Swing at the High Pitches

      God created me for coaching; whether it’s baseball, consultative selling, communication skills, job search or career management, I love to coach. One of the most rewarding things for me as a coach is to see an immediate positive change in the performance of someone I’m coaching.

      About 10 years ago, for instance, we had a young man on our 10-and-under team named Darius who was a big, strong kid. He’s the one you hear about who has to have his birth certificate to prove his age. As the hitting coach, I noticed he wasn’t “bracing off,” which means he wasn’t locking his front leg at the moment of contact with the ball. If a hitter doesn’t brace off, his knee absorbs much of the force that should have been applied to the ball. After I taught Darius how to brace off, he showed immediate improvement. He almost hit a home run in the very next game (the ball hit the fence on the fly). We worked on bracing off again the following week. In practice the next night, he hit four home runs over a fence that was 200 feet away. I couldn’t be there that night, but Darius said to my son, “Austin, be sure and tell your dad about my home runs tonight.”

      Man, that’s a great feeling!

      During the early part of the season, we had an issue that every youth baseball coach faces: our players were swinging at pitches that were up around the bill of their cap. Two of our coaches consistently yelled at the kids when they swung at a high pitch.

      It occurred to me that every player on our team, and any 10-year-old who has played baseball more than a week, knows not to swing at a pitch that is so high. So I began to wonder why in the world a kid would do such a foolish thing. One thing I knew for sure: yelling at them was not helping them hit better. The yelling by the other coaches was a classic case of, “The more the parents ‘coach,’ the worse the kids play.”

      In the dugout, I began to ask questions of the hitter whose turn was coming up in two spots. For you baseball aficionados, it’s called “in the hole.” You have the hitter at bat, then one “on-deck” and then one “in the hole.” I’d ask questions like, “Which way was the ball spinning?” and “What kind of pitch was that?” and “Without looking at the scoreboard, what’s the count? How many outs are there?” You can learn a lot – and teach more – by asking questions.

      I hit upon the solution to swinging at high pitches when we played a game I called “high, low, strike.” The player in the hole was supposed to say whether the pitch was going to be above, below or within the strike zone during the flight of the ball. (We couldn’t read the horizontal location from our vantage point in the dugout.) Some kids called the pitch right after the ball hit the catcher’s mitt. Whoops; too late. With a little practice, most kids made their call when the ball was about halfway to the plate.

      One kid, however, called “high” when the pitcher was still holding the ball. In fact, the ball was still behind the pitcher’s back! I said, “Tysen, I know what the problem is; you’re guessing where it’s going instead of reading the pitch. You need to wait until the ball is out of the pitcher’s hand before you know where it’s going.” Tysen’s pitch selection and batting average improved after that, and I am happy to report that, several weeks later, he hit the longest home run I will probably ever see a 10-year-old hit.

      Grown Ups Swing at High Pitches Too

      You may be wondering what all this has to do with job search.

      I’ll bet every person who has been to one JobSeekers meeting knows that he or she is supposed to be networking. Most people who haven’t been to a JobSeekers meeting also know that the best chance of finding a job is through personal contacts – not the Internet. For me to be saying, “You need to be networking more” is about as dumb as, “Don’t swing at the high pitches.”

      DAVE, H-E-L-L-O-O-O-! I ALREADY KNOW THAT!

      Now I try to assume that most of the people I deal with know what to do. If they are not doing it, we need to search for the root cause. Here is my list of 10 things that drive a career coach crazy:

      1. What is it that causes someone to look for jobs on the Internet for hours every day instead of making personal contacts and going to networking meetings?
      2. Why is it that when people are under stress their decision-making ability is so poor?
      3. What causes someone who is under severe financial stress to make decisions that cause even more financial woes?
      4. Why do people do something as important as looking for a job without the proper preparation and training?
      5. Why do some people (Ship’s Crew, current members, alumni, pastors and this writer) recommend JobSeekers to an unemployed person, and they never come?
      6. Why do some people who are looking for a job fail to check their email?
      7. Why is it that, when we ask new members of JobSeekers to send us their resume, they fail to do so?
      8. Why do people receive networking referrals and fail to follow up on them?
      9. Why do people who do follow up on the referrals fail to call the first person (the one who made the referral mentioned in #8) and let him or her know what happened?
      10. Why on God’s green earth would someone who’s been out of work for a year reject my advice? Whoops, my frustration is showing through; how about this instead: I wonder why some people who’ve been out of work for several months are not open to constructive feedback?

      I remember, for example, an employer who asked me to find a match for a PC support technician. I found two people who matched the criteria and might have been available. I emailed them both. One guy got back to me within two hours. He was calling from Georgia Tech, where he had been happily employed for five months. The other, whose last day at work was 11 months prior, never got back to me. Later I found out that he was still looking.

      By the way, notice that the person who had the job was the one with good follow up skills! The person with the poor follow up skills had never come to a JobSeekers meeting; how come? He, or someone else who didn’t send me a resume, missed a job opportunity that week.

      Even Paul Had Behavioral Issues

      All of us sinners can take comfort in the fact that guy who wrote about one-third of the New Testament also struggled with his behavior. Read the words of Paul in Romans 7:15-25:

      “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

      So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

      What’s Holding You Back? Find the Root Cause

      In youth baseball, it may be that the player is not reading the pitch correctly. There may be a fear that if he doesn’t swing, a good pitch is going to go by. Or it may be that he knows he’s going to get yelled at if he takes a third strike without swinging.

      Think about things you could be doing that would advance your campaign. What’s keeping you from doing them? Think about things you are doing that are holding your campaign back. Why do you continue to do them?

      Don’t beat yourself up for doing (or not doing) something. Being judgmental, even toward oneself, is seldom (if ever) beneficial. Just look at the root cause and work on that. We all have self-limiting issues; we are all in good company. If Paul struggled with his behavior, why wouldn’t we?

      See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we are changing our self-defeating behaviors into job-winning habits!

      Copyright © 2012-2018 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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        A Sharp Focus is Key

        sharp focus


        Keep a sharp focus.

        Have you ever used a magnifying glass to set a leaf on fire? Looking for a job is a lot like catching a leaf on fire. In both, a sharp focus is key. I’ve noticed that some of you have a magnifying glass, but you don’t know which leaf you want to focus on. Others know which leaf you want, but you aren’t focusing the light properly. Still others focus the light, but you switch to another leaf just before the flame starts.

        I looked up “focus” on BibleGateway.com and was surprised to find that the word does not appear even once in the NIV. The Message paraphrase Bible uses the word “focus” 29 times. I selected this one for you, Philippians 3:15:

        “So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet!”

        When discussing focus with a group of my clients, one pointed out a verse from Proverbs that has to do with focus; here are two versions of Proverbs 17:24:

        “A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” (NIV) and “Anyone with wisdom knows what makes good sense, but fools can never make up their minds.” (Contemporary English Version)

        With this in mind, here at three things you must do to improve your results:

        1. Make up you mind about what you want to do.

        The leaves could represent different functions or industries. There may be several that would make sense for you to choose. In order for you to set the leaf on fire (win a job), you must choose one to focus your energy on. Someone sent me a resume a while back that said something like, “Seeking a management position in sales, marketing, operations, administration, human resources or finance.” Gee whiz, pick one to focus on or you won’t get hired!

        2. Build a short list of target companies, organizations or agencies.

        Now that you’ve chosen your leaf, decide exactly where you are going to focus the sun’s rays. Don’t swirl the light beam around thinking that you will start a bigger fire. You won’t. If someone woke you up from a deep sleep and asked what companies you’re targeting, you should be focused enough to say, “I’m targeting third-party logistics companies like Exel, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, and Eagle Global Logistics.”

        3. Work tirelessly and single-mindedly to accomplish your goal.

        At first, it will seem like nothing is happening. Be patient. Be steady and strong. Have faith. Remember your past success catching a leaf on fire, or listen to the wise counsel of others who have. Don’t let a failure or rejection deter you. Don’t let the contrary opinion of one or two people sway you. Don’t drop out of the race a few feet from the finish line.

        Lewis Carroll, in his classic Alice in Wonderland, says Alice came to a fork in the road and saw the Cheshire Cat in a tree. “‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’”

        In job search, it does matter!

        If you are blown and tossed by the wind, you may not reach your full potential – and the job God has in store for you. It may be that you would have a longer job search, earn less income, perform a less desirable job, work in a hostile environment, make a long commute, or be forced to relocate. Get focused and get results.

        Paul of Tarsus was the embodiment of focus. He knew exactly what he was called to do (preach the good news and start the Christian church). He knew exactly who his audience was (first the Jew, then the Gentile), and he was totally focused on his ministry and mission (and he wouldn’t let things like the emperor of Rome, the Jewish leaders, or persecutions stop him). Paul accomplished his mission. You can too.

        See you on Friday at JobSeekers; the place where a sharp focus comes into view!

        Copyright © 2004-2018 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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          It’s Not Who You Are, It’s Whose You Are

           Father's Love Letter


          Father’s Love Letter

          Some of you have not only forgotten who you are, but whose you are.

          A few years ago I was working with Debra, a recently departed quality technician from a local manufacturing company. We were working on her 45-second oral introduction (I am … My background includes … One accomplishment I’m proud of is …) when she said, “I’m not just a quality technician, so I don’t want to say that.” I explained that we are different things to different people. If you are stuck in a traffic jam on Highway 54 because of a 50-foot deep sinkhole, someone from 11-Alive might point a camera at you and stick a microphone in your car window and ask how long you’ve been sitting in the backup. When you see yourself on the news that night the caption on your picture might say, “Fred Flintstone, frustrated motorist.”

          Some of you are defining yourself as, “Jerry JobSeeker, unemployed.”

          Friends, don’t let a former employer define who you are. Don’t let a particular person at a former employer define who you are. Don’t let the last company who failed to hire you define who you are – or the overworked HR person who hasn’t called you on the expected date. Don’t let the unseen “monsters” in cyberspace define who you are. And don’t let 11-Alive define who you are either.

          None of that matters!

          With that in mind, I asked Debra to write down some other “I am” statements. I don’t remember them all, but it went something like this: “I am a … quality technician, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, VBS director, Sunday school teacher, college student, program director, office technology specialist, and, I am a child of God.” When she finished she said, “I guess I should have put ‘child of God’ first.”

          Notice that she didn’t write, “I am unemployed.”

          Sometimes we let our current circumstances dictate our self-image. Man, if you go into a job interview or networking meeting with a poor self-image, you self-image is likely to be worse when you finish because the company isn’t going to hire you and the friend isn’t going to recommend you to anyone else.

          With God’s help, you can break the cycle! Here’s how:

          1. Remember whose you are – you are a child of God.

          First and foremost you are a child of God. You are made in God’s image. As a father loves his children, God loves you and wants to bless you. He wants you to find joy in your life – no matter what your circumstances. He doesn’t want you to be unemployed, at least not for long. He wants you to use the gifts and abilities he has given you to bless His kingdom and to support your family. He wants you to find joy in your career.

          2. Remember the good times – look expectantly toward your new job.

          Remember times in your career when you were in your sweet spot. Look expectantly toward being in your sweet spot again. When I was in my first job search in 1992, I noticed a huge difference in the way people reacted to me compared to other job seekers. My attitude was, “I’m energized because I am working every day toward a worthy goal, and when I get there, man, it’s going to be great!”

          3. Slow down and listen for the gentle whisper of God.

          Now that you’ve stepped out of the hectic corporate world for a time, slow down and recharge your mind, body and spirit. Arm yourself for battle by drawing near to God. Pray and read the Bible. Join a Bible study class. Vocalize your feelings to God. Ask Him for the strength and confidence to overcome those terrifying feelings of self-doubt. Find scriptures that encourage you. When you do this, you will begin to hear the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit.

          After I read “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale a few years ago, I created 20 Biblically-based affirmations and used them frequently in my job search in 2000. These affirmations, along with the three points above, strengthened me for the battle I fought. The first affirmation is, “I picture success. I have formulated and stamped indelibly on my mind a picture of myself succeeding. I always picture success, now matter how badly things are going at the moment.” To see the whole list, click here.

          Father’s Love Letter

          I found this out in cyberspace; it’s called “Father’s Love Letter.” Maybe it will help to strengthen you. It is a compilation of bible verses from both the Old and New Testaments that are presented in the form of a love letter from God to the world. Here are the first seven lines:

          You may not know me, but I know everything about you. – Psalm 139:1

          I know when you sit down and when you rise up. – Psalm 139:2

          I am familiar with all your ways. – Psalm 139:3

          Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. – Matthew 10:29-31

          For you were made in my image. – Genesis 1:27

          In me you live and move and have your being. – Acts 17:28

          For you are my offspring. – Acts 17:28

          Click here to see and hear the entire letter.

          BTW, I got the idea for the title from my very first JobSeekers meeting. I came as a participant on 11 February 2000. See you on Friday at JobSeekers, where we remember whose we are, look expectantly to the brighter days ahead, and listen for the gentle voice of God.

          * Excerpt from “Father’s Love Letter” used by permission, Father Heart Communications. Copyright 1999.

          Copyright © 2006-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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            Discouraged Workers Are Always Welcome

            Discouraged workers, downcast people and depressed souls are always welcome at JobSeekers.

            As I talk to job seekers over the days, weeks and years, I learn about people who are going through a period of depression. The depressed people aren’t telling me; it’s someone else who tells me about them. Oftentimes, the most depressed people don’t attend our JobSeekers meetings.

            This concerns me for two reasons: first, if you are staying home on Friday mornings because you’re down, you’re making the problem worse. I’ll say more about this in a minute. Second, I’m concerned because the meetings are so upbeat, you may feel out of place.

            “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

            – Philippians 4:4–7

            Friends, discouraged workers, downcast people and depressed souls are always welcome at JobSeekers! I can tell you with 100% certainty that every job seeker in that room on Friday mornings has battled negative thoughts and feelings if they have been looking for a job for 30 days or more. The only difference between you and them is that they may be at a peak while you are in a valley. When you are in the valley looking up, it seems everyone is better off than you. Come to JobSeekers and we will lift you up.

            Mood swings come with the territory. Job search is an emotional roller coaster. If you are down, find someone else at the bottom of his or her curve and lift him or her up. I spoke to a job seeker a few days ago who took another job seeker to lunch; both were in a funk before, and now both are in better spirits. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The best way to lift your own spirits is to pick someone else up.

            If you get down and stay down, get help. God doesn’t want you there; at least not for long. He will provide resources – including other people – to help you out of the dark hole you are in. Look at what you might be doing to make the problem worse. Examine yourself mentally, physically, socially and spiritually:

            1. Mentally.

            Read uplifting books. Listen to motivational audios. Seek wise counsel, even professional help, if necessary. Limit your time on the computer. And, when you work on the following three areas, mental health usually takes care of itself.

            2. Physically.

            Optimize your diet and nutrition, rest and sleep, and exercise and activity. They form the three-legged stool of good health. Depressed people often make the problem worse by changing their habits in these areas for the worse. Eat healthier foods, drink more water, get the proper amount of rest, and exercise more often. You’ve got the time!

            3. Socially.

            Get out and about. Help someone else. You are making depression worse if you are staying home on Friday mornings – and every other day of the week. Lethargy sets in and depression becomes more and more difficult to overcome.

            4. Spiritually.

            Admit it. Confess it. Write about it. Pray about it. You’re in good company. David wrote more psalms of lament than anything else. Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet.” Old Job had more trouble than any of us will ever see. Yes, you are in good company; the person sitting next to you has been there too.

            Depression is not the problem; it’s a symptom of the problem. You’ve got to figure out what the root cause is. Some say they are having a run of bad luck. You can do a lot to change your luck; it starts by laying your problems at the foot of the cross. Trust in the Lord and work wholeheartedly as God directs you.

            Chuck Hodges, pastor at Athens First United Methodist, emphasizes that there’s a difference between joy and happiness. As Christians we are called to be joyful all the time (see the “Rejoice in the Lord always” passage above). We are called to be joyful, but we don’t necessarily have to happy. In fact, if you were happy about being out of work, we may need to talk!

            When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he instructed them to rejoice in the Lord always; I know from personal experience that “always rejoicing” is tough to do when you are looking for a job. Friends, it is okay to be depressed while you are looking for a job; it is not okay to accept it as your fate. Decide today that, with God’s help, you will not dwell on your present circumstances; you will hope for – search for – the abundant life God has planned for you.

            That’s what we do every week at JobSeekers. We rejoice. Always.

            I’ve included three pictures from our meeting on 2 November 2012. Mark Hutto came to shares his good news after he landed a great job. He had been through some extremely difficult times in addition to his job search. Tiffany Lust volunteered to help me demonstrate the difference between knowledge and skill. She easily learned the steps to juggle, but couldn’t actually do it. We all fell out laughing. When Marcus Smith introduced himself, he said he wasn’t leaving until he got a good networking referral; he succeeded in seconds when devotional speaker Glen Gould  gave him one.

            Dwelling on the abundant life he has in store for you – now that’s something you can be joyful about, even when times are tough! My prayer for all of you is that when you hit the bottom of the joy curve, you will claim this verse – and all of God’s promises – for yourself.

            Come to JobSeekers on Friday – especially if you are weary and heavy-laden – and He will lift you up! You will find rest for your souls, hope for your heart, and strength for the week ahead.

            Copyright © 2004-2018 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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              Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

              Oftentimes, things aren’t always what they seem. A few years ago Marcia Gibson told us her accomplishment for the week was getting turned down twice. The way she phrased it was, “I was blessed this week when two companies told me I could keep searching for a new position. God got them out of my way so I could move more freely toward the job He has in store for me.”

              We all fell out laughing, but I think everyone could hear the certainty in her voice and see the conviction in her heart – she actually believed what she was saying!

              Marcia was red hot after that and accepted one of two offers a few weeks later.

              Her story reminded me of a JobSeeker and OCM client from several years ago who was counting his blessings a year after he was turned down by two companies. Notice that he was counting his blessings a year later – not when he got the news.

              Phil interviewed for a promising position on 20 May 2003. He rushed from that interview to another company and another promising position. And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the rest of the story:

              The first company was BioLab in Conyers. They made the national news 369 days after Phil’s interview when a massive fire tore through their plant. Phil said, “I turned on the TV this morning to see the billowing smoke soar skyward from their massive facility; I thanked God for His divine guidance away from that situation.” As you may have guessed by now, he didn’t get the job at the second interview that day either. Even though Phil and the hiring manager had an immediate rapport (turns out they were acquainted) that job wasn’t a good fit for Phil. The manager called Phil several months later to say that he was about to leave because the company could no longer compete in their niche market.

              Phil got a good job not long after that. He kept the faith. Whenever I spoke to him there was always something good just around the corner. It turns out he was right. He concluded an email with this: “I hope this finds you well. I am doing fantabulous. God does look out for us! Dave, thank you for all you have done to help me. I am a richer man today for meeting you and I consider you a friend.”

              Friends, don’t give up. God has a plan and a purpose for your life and career (Jeremiah 29:11). He is working for your good (Romans 8:28). Trust God. Sometimes when we think things aren’t going well, he says, “Trust me with all your heart, for I have better things planned for you.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Things aren’t always what they seem.

              The following story illustrates this point. 

              Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

              Two traveling angels spent the night in the home of a wealthy family.

              The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.

              When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t what they always seem.”

              The next night the pair of angels came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

              The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, and you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die!”

              “Things aren’t what they always seem,” replied older angel. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead.”

              Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way we want. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You just might not know until sometime later.

              There have been times in my life when I’ve faced loss and disappointment only to find out later that God’s hand was on my shoulder the entire time, that his love was surrounding me completely, and that his plan and purpose for my life were unfolding before me.

              One more verse from Proverbs 18:13 before I close: “He who answers a matter before he hears the facts – it is folly and shame to him.” Things aren’t always what they seem. Oftentimes, they are much better than we can conceive or imagine.

              See you on Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we trust God – especially when things don’t seem to be going well.

              Copyright © 2004-2018 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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                An Unholy Trinity

                Job search is hard. When we reach a crisis point in our lives, the unholy trinity combines forces to make the battle even tougher. Job search isn’t just about finding a job; it’s part of a cosmic battle for our hearts. Along with divorce, job search is one of the toughest attacks on your ego that you will ever face. To be sure, there are things in life that are tougher, such as the death of a loved one, a life-threatening illness or injury, and maybe a prison sentence.

                I’m constantly reminded of the fact that, in search, we are called upon to be at our professional best right after someone told us we weren’t worth having around anymore. That’s enough to get you down right there! But there may be other, more negative forces working on you than meets the eye.

                John Eldredge writes in Wild at Heart, “Whatever specific terrain you are called to – at home, at work … you will always encounter three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. They make up sort of an unholy trinity.” Job search is one of the toughest spiritual battles you will every face. Here’s a glimpse into what’s going on:

                1. The world attacks our hearts.

                The world rejects us. Your former employer said, “Get lost.” Your target company said, “We don’t want you.” Your networking contact said, “I’m too busy.” All this rejection can wear us down.

                The world tells us to change our attitude. “Friend, you’ve got to change your attitude. You’ve got to pull yourself up by the bootstraps.” Sometimes I think those of us with good intentions and good attitudes lay a guilt trip on those who don’t share our positive outlook on life. The person with the bad attitude often thinks, “What’s wrong with me that I can’t snap my fingers and suddenly be in a good mood?” To the encouragers of the world, including myself, I encourage you to help people pull themselves up when they are unable to do it themselves.

                2. The flesh attacks our hearts.

                The flesh betrays us. Did you notice on the previous point that part of it was about the world sending the seeker a message, but the response came from within the mind of the seeker? Our self-talk is one of the most destructive forces to our psyche. Everyone has negative thoughts; we handle those thoughts differently. One affirmation I use is: “I think positive. I deliberately voice a positive thought to cancel out any negative thought that comes to mind concerning my personal powers. I have formed the habit of positive thinking.”

                Pride is another destructive force. I’ve seen a lot of people derail their job search because of pride. Friends, humble yourselves and ask for help. Ask friends for help. Listen to their counsel. Ask for professional help; it may pay dividends far beyond your job search. Ask God for help; he is standing at your door and knocking.

                And speaking of the flesh, poor health – whether it’s a disease, illness or injury – can play a big role in a job search. Do everything you can to maintain good health, and if that isn’t enough – if your health is still a factor – use your advisory team to develop a realistic, achievable goal for your career.

                3. The devil attacks our hearts.

                The devil deceives us. Sometimes that self-doubt isn’t just from you. Jesus called the devil “the father of lies.” He was speaking to the Pharisees when he said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

                The father of lies may be speaking to you. Satan may be placing negative thoughts in your head and fear in your heart. He just loves it when we are at a crisis point in our lives because we are so vulnerable. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

                Eldredge writes in Captivating, “All the Enemy has to do to destroy people is to get them isolated, [like] a lamb separated from the flock.” Satan wants to separate you from your employer, your target companies, your network, your advisory team, your family – and, most of all – your spouse. Don’t let the enemy win! Fight back with the power of the Holy Trinity.

                – – – – – – –

                I used to work in an office that was right beside some railroad tracks. Every now and then I’d see a 100-car train loaded with coal start from a complete standstill. It took four engines working at maximum power to get it rolling. At first it moved very slowly, but before it was out of sight, it would be moving at 45 miles per hour.

                Which way is your train headed?

                Maybe those four engines – your negative attitude, combined with the world, the flesh and the devil – have you headed south. They’re building momentum, and you’re headed in the wrong direction. Stop the engines. Change your course. Pray for a willing spirit. Derail the forces of evil working against you. Hook up the powerful engines of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Get your train rolling toward True North.

                See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we claim the power of the Holy Trinity.

                Copyright © 2006-2018 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

                 

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                  A Bias for Action

                  bias for action


                  How much does your job search
                  cost you each day?

                  Our topic a few weeks ago was “How to Make $15K Real Fast.” Some people who couldn’t make it wrote and asked me how to make $15K real fast. I’m shocked and surprised that all of you who couldn’t make it didn’t write to me! Some of you don’t have a bias for action.

                  The answer is: look for a job during the summer. Look for a job every day, all day during the summer. I arrived at this figure by using the figures you have reported to us when you came to your first meeting. The average member of JobSeekers of PTC earns about $180 per day, 365 days a year. Multiply that amount by the 73 days of summer in the Fayette County school system and you have $13,140.

                  If you had to write a $15K check in order to take the summer off, would you do it?

                  If you haven’t been working on your job search this week because you want to relax during your kids’ first month of summer, write a check for $5400. Yes, Memorial Day and Independence Day are work days for a job seeker. Father’s Day is a work day for a job seeker. Every day is a work day (an opportunity) for a job seeker.

                  If you’ve taken the summer off so far, you are not showing a bias for action.

                  – – – – –

                  “If you could attempt anything in your job search today and you knew beforehand you were going to be successful at it, what would you do?”

                  Two or three times a year I ask the audience at JobSeekers this question. Most of the responses have to do with networking and using the phone. “I’d call the company I interviewed with three weeks ago and tell them I want the job.” “I’d call the VP of operations at such-and-such a company and ask for an informational meeting.”

                  If you knew you were going to be successful – and you actually did it – you’d have a bias for action.

                  What’s holding you back?

                  Next I ask what’s holding them back. Fear and pride come up every time. Other responses include not knowing anyone to call, not wanting to interrupt, and not having the necessary skills. “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to say.”

                  Many times a year (every week?) we emphasize that networking is by far the number one way people find jobs. Most people do it, but they do far too little of it. One time I took a survey at a JobSeeker meeting. The question was, “When was the last time you contacted someone you’d never spoken to before and asked for help with your job search?” The average was 7.21 days. Everyone knows networking is the best way to find a job, but they only talk to one new person per week!

                  When I think about this critical issue, these two bible verses pop into my head:

                  1. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

                  2. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

                  Only six verses separate these two passages. They are both found in the fourth chapter of James. What’s the connection between these passages and someone seeking employment? I believe I am writing to a great many of you who need to hear this message – people who need to act decisively upon this advice.

                  Humility pays off.

                  The first passage about being humble is clear. I know from personal experience that it takes a great deal of humility to tell someone you are out of work and need some help. I did better at this in my own search in 2000 than I did in 1992. I know this is hard; I have tons of empathy for you.

                  One member of the Ship’s Crew saw a gentleman at church almost every week for eight months before the gentlemen mentioned that he was in career transition. Pride and inaction may have cost that job seeker tens of thousands of dollars.

                  Swallowing your pride and asking for help could shorten your search by months, which would increase your income substantially. For example, if you earn $72K per year and shorten your search by two months, your gross income increases by $12K. You may get back on a corporate medical plan two months sooner and won’t have to pay COBRA fees. So I urge you, brothers and sisters, to humble yourself before the Lord – and before your family, friends and neighbors – and they will lift you up!

                  We had several people in the past year that had been out of work for almost a year. They humbled themselves, asked us for help, invested in some training, and found great jobs as a result. They had a bias for action and it paid big dividends.

                  Action pays off.

                  In Search of ExcellenceThe second passage about “doing what you know you ought to do” is a verse I’ve struggled with. I’ve asked myself, “Is it a sin to spend 70% of your time on ‘Monster’ and other job boards when you know that the best way to find a job is through networking?” I’ll let you and God work that one out, but I do have an analogy for what I see many of you doing:

                  Think of a pilot trying to get a plane airborne: the plane has to achieve a certain speed in order to take off. In the worst case, it will crash into whatever is at the end of the runway, possibly killing all aboard.

                  I’ve met many of you who think you are going fast enough to get airborne. You’re burning lots of fuel and going 90 miles an hour, but you’re not going fast enough to get airborne. It breaks my heart and frustrates the heck out of me to see you plodding down the runway.

                  In their best selling business book, In Search of Excellence, Peters and Waterman say one of the eight principles of a well-run, focused company is “a bias for action.”

                  Friends, some of you are not in action! You think you are, but you aren’t. You’re working hard, but not smart. You’re on the internet when you should be on the phone. You’re out in left field when you should be out in the community.

                  You’re not letting me down; you’re letting yourself and your family down.

                  Friends, some of you are not in action! You don’t see the consequence of taking the afternoon, or the day, or the week, or the summer off. I mentioned financial consequences, but there are other possible consequences as well, like explaining why your job search is taking so long. Time is money. Behave as if you believe this.

                  What are you going to do?

                  By golly, if you know the good you ought to do, by all means, do it! I don’t know if it’s a sin – or evil – or not, but I do know that it is a disservice to you, to your family and to the Kingdom of God. Paul scolded the church members in Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians, chapter 3) for laziness in their work; now I am challenging you and your bias for action.

                  I am asking you to reflect on what you are doing – on what’s working and what you need to change. I’m sure that all of us – including our alumni, our network, and me – can find some area of our lives that we are not doing the things we know we ought to do. So I am challenging each and every one of you to take one decisive step to ramp up your job search, your career, or your business – to the glory of God.

                  Are you on board? What are you going to do?

                  See you Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we have a bias for action!

                  Copyright © 2004-2018 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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                    The Divine Improvisation

                    Wynton Marsalis


                    Wynton Marsalis

                    God’s will is dynamic! We see examples of the divine improvisation all the time if we keep our eyes open to the gentle whisper of the Lord.

                    In the middle of recent meeting at JobSeekers, someone’s cell phone went off. The incident reminded me of a sermon I once heard; the key illustration was about Wynton Marsalis, arguably the greatest jazz musician of his generation – and one of the finest classical musicians as well. Marsalis has won Grammy awards in both categories.

                    The story took place on a Tuesday evening in late August 2001 in Greenwich Village at a jazz club called the Village Vanguard. This excerpt is from Faith Today:

                    Marsalis began an unaccompanied solo of the heartrending 1930′s ballad, “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You.” Hajdu [a journalist covering the performance] records that the audience became rapt as Marsalis’s trumpet virtually wept in despair, almost gasping at times with the pain in the music.

                    Stretching the mood taut, Marsalis came to the final phrase, with each note coming slower and slower, with longer and longer pauses between each one: “I … don’t … stand … a … ghost … of … a … chance … ”

                    And then someone’s cell phone went off.

                    It began to chirp an absurd little tune. The audience broke up into titters, the man with the phone jumped up and fled into the hallway to take his call, and the spell was broken. “MAGIC – RUINED,” the journalist scratched into his notepad.

                    But then Marsalis played the cell phone melody note for note. He played it again, with different accents. He began to play with it, spinning out a rhapsody on the silly little tune, changing keys several times. The audience settled down, slowly realizing they were hearing something altogether extraordinary. Around and around Marsalis played for several minutes, weaving glory out of goofiness.

                    Finally, in a masterstroke, he wound his cadenza down seamlessly to the last two notes of his previous song: “… with … you.” The audience exploded with applause.

                    God was at work in that club. That same versatile, resourceful God is at work in your life and mine.

                    That same brilliantly adaptable God is at work throughout this sin-sick world, bringing beauty out of baseness, heroism out of holocaust, love out of loss – even salvation out of sacrifice. He calls us to believe, and then do the same.

                    In the sermon, Chuck Hodges (Senior Pastor at Athens First UMC) said God works for our good every day; His will is dynamic. Keith Moore (Senior Pastor at Dogwood Church) preaches the same thing; God’s dynamic will takes over when sin spoils His plan. In other words, we are subject to the consequences of our will and our decisions – as well as the will and decisions of others – and stuff happens. Like losing a job. Or coming in second on an interview. Or missing a mortgage payment. Or getting a divorce.

                    Let God do something amazing in your life. This adversity is an opportunity to experience what God can do – an opportunity to experience His grace. Submit to His will and trust him with all your heart. He can take whatever mess you are in right now and weave glory out of goofiness. He will divinely improvise to (re)create a joyful and abundant life for you. If there is never a burden, how will we discover what great things God can do?

                    Here are two versions of Proverbs 3:5-6:

                    1) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

                    2) Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (The Message)

                    See you Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we experience God’s divine improvisations!

                    Copyright © 2004-2018 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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