Listen: Ken Wassell chats to Katrina Roe
Unemployment is an uncomfortable word. So when Ken Wassell wrote a book about the experience, he called it Trusting God Between Jobs. It sent a message to himself and others, that being “in between jobs” was only temporary. In this interview with Katrina Roe, Ken shares how his faith and reliance on God increased during that difficult season. Trusting God Between Jobs is available through Koorong and other major book retailers.
KR: What did you personally find the hardest about being in between jobs?
KW: Well, we’re all highly motivated to work. So being without physical work, [without] getting up in the morning and going out to the office, it was very hard. Then all of a sudden finances hit – and when you realise there’s only any certain amount of finances to manage monthly expenses, that’s when you realise the belt start to get tightened and the rubber hits the road very quickly.
KR: I remember the moment very clearly came when my husband came home one day from work, I was at home full time with the baby, didn’t have a job myself… and he said he’d been made redundant. And that moment, having two kids and no income – a very scary place to be. A lot of people are finding themselves in that situation right now. One of the most challenging things can be the impact on your sense of identity and your self worth. How did that impact you, Ken, in that time?
KW: That was very hard, because we get a lot of our identity in what we do. I’ve been called many things: have been called a caseworker, an accountant, bookkeeper… titles that relate to who you are. When the role has become redundant, and you’re sitting at home, just praying and hoping for the next door open, it keeps you very vulnerable. And it’s a very tough position to be.
KR: It’s hard to keep putting yourself out there applying for jobs and being rejected again and again. Did you struggle with that?
KW: I did. I’ve got an amazingly positive wife. And many times I came second in a job, or third… when we come when we’re running a race, and we come second or third, that’s pretty encouraging – but when you become second in a job, it’s really not encouraging… and I remember my wife saying to me, Ken, just remember, you came second, and 35 people applied for it. Be encouraged that you came second out of 35! And we’ve just got to keep on trying, just keep on knocking on the door… and I kept on doing it.
KR: Yeah, I remember that feeling of going “Well, if you get an interview, you’re getting close. Maybe it’ll be the next one.” But Gosh, it’s a hard time. You’ve mentioned the real financial pressure you came under [but] you had moments where you did feel that God really provided for you – can tell us about some of those times?
KW: Oh, this is fascinating. I remember taking my dog for a walk one day, and that was a good part of my getting out of the house. Exercise was great. And God dropped a Bible verse in my spirit. And it was Philippians 4, verse 19. And it said, “I’ll provide all your needs.” I stopped and I thought, God, what does this mean, why are you sharing this verse with me right now?” Over the next period of weeks, I was highly encouraged that God promised me that it would be okay. He would provide for my house, my food, my clothing… basic needs. And that he would certainly draw me closer to him during this very, very tough season.
KR: And that proved to be the case.
KW: Oh definitely. I had some amazing miracles along the journey. When ‘Mother Hubbard’s cupboard’ is a bit bare… it’s a very humiliating, humbling experience. And I’m sure there’s a lot of people listening now who are probably feeling the same.
I remember I rang my banker… I shared my scenario with them, and they seemed to understand it. And within a few weeks, I did a new valuation on our house. And then they informed me that for four months, I don’t need to pay my mortgage. And so I asked the next question, I said “Well does that mean that just gets added on to the end of the loan?” And they said, “No, it’s a free gift.” And I quickly fell to my knees and just thanked God that in the midst of how tough circumstances can be, His promises are true, He’s faithful to what he says through the word. And that was for four months. It was just beautiful – a load lifted off our shoulders. Yet on the other side, my season went longer than four months. So the season continued after that.
KR: Ken I’ve been unemployed a couple of times, and both times I found it very challenging to my mental health, particularly, when my husband and I both didn’t have a job between us. But I also found it really helpful in those periods to create some work for myself, whether that was volunteering one day a week, or starting a project… while still looking for paid work, of course. Do you think it’s helpful to do something like that to just create work for yourself to do?
KW: Most definitely, because Katrina, one of the things I learned was, you don’t know which door you knock on is going to open. With it’s one of your network, whether it’s through Facebook friends, or Instagram or whatever it is, or even past employees you’ve worked with. Even at church; I volunteered at church in different capacities, because I never knew which door God would open. So I talk about in my book about how important volunteering is. Even if it’s just one day a week… even if you’re going to learn upskill, for a new role that you’ll do in the future. So I certainly found volunteering very helpful.
KR: If someone’s listening to this now, Ken, and they have just found themselves out of a job. What do you want them to know? What’s your message to them?
KW: Well as a Christian, I just want to firstly say that the God that we worship is faithful. He allows us to go through tough seasons, for many purposes, one of which is to rely on him more.
There’s a good Bible verse in James 4:8, that says, “Draw near to God, and he’ll draw near to you”. So he’s forever drawing us near to him, so that he can help us through the many challenges that we face in life. So firstly, God is faithful. And another thing I want to share is that this season is temporary. It may feel like it’s going to go on forever. And it’s tough. But it’s temporary. It could change tomorrow. It could change next week, it could change next month.
So getting some good exercise, keep your head fresh and well and healthy. It’s moving you forward to the new door that God’s going to open for you… Remember, God’s good. And this is all part of a temporary season that could change at any time. We’ve just got to keep pushing forward and believing God for the next door to open.