Years ago when I first started in this industry a seasoned radio professional told me “your radio career really only begins after you have been fired twice.” I also worked with a very respected man who was at 38 stations in 25 years! As I look around Christian radio now, it seems like there is more activity going on and several great people are out of work. Stations are being sold and thanks to technology there aren’t as many open on-air spots as there were before. That means less jobs and more lay-offs. So what do you do? As a former GM whose been on one side of the desk letting people go and as an employee who first tasted this experience of being let go back in 1984, here are some lessons I have learned.
1.Have an emergency fund. Have at least six months of expenses on hand so you don’t have to rush your decision. Being fired is hard and the last thing you want to do is make a rash decision you would regret later. Having some money on hand gives you more time to pray and think about what you want to do next.
2. Know your exit when you first get hired. The best time to talk about leaving the station is when you first start. Several Christian stations now have employment agreements with their key staff. The upside to an agreement is you have job security. The downside is they normally have a period of non-compete after you leave.
3. Be careful what you say. When it comes the “moment” you are being let go, it’s okay to want to understand why you are being fired so you can learn, but it’s not the time to argue. You won’t win. By the time the boss has come to this point, there’s not much to say and the boss normally won’t say much either. We are in a small industry and we don’t know what the future will bring. It’s natural to want to tell your co-workers how unfair you have been treated, but don’t do it! As much as you might think that bad mouthing the organization will hurt the organization, it will bring more damage to your reputation. As hard as it is, take the high road. If you need a place to vent, talk with a counselor or close friend. But keep that circle of friends small so you don’t wear yourself out. And by all means don’t post negative comments on social media!
4. Be grateful. It may take a little while, but be grateful for the time you had at the radio station. I heard someone who is way smarter than me once share that our brains are wired so we can’t be grateful and anxious at the same time. We can only think one way or the other. Not having a job can be an anxious time. Rather than letting anxiety control you, be grateful for the good things that have happened while you were at the station.
5. We are not wired to forgive. It really is a supernatural thing to do – especially when we believe we have been treated wrongly. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness. We know the saying “bitterness is like taking a poison pill and waiting for the other person to die.” Instead, pray for the person who let you go. Tell God you forgive them and pray that God will bless them and the radio station. I know it’s not easy. You may have to do it several times a day for weeks and months to come, but eventually it will lead to freedom for you. That’s why it’s a supernatural thing where you need the Holy Spirit’s help. How do you know when you have forgiven them? If you are still hoping the station’s ratings or revenue go down or hoping the person who fired you is going to pay a price for their mistake, then you are still walking in unforgiveness.
6. Focus forward on your calling. Often times we get ministry and calling mixed up. Ministry changes. Calling does not. Most of the people I know who are in radio have felt called by God to reach the masses with the good news of Jesus. That calling in your life never changes. Romans talks about God’s gifts and His calling are irrevocable. Paul talks about his calling in Philippians 3:12. The calling never changed. But ministry does change. I have been at several ministries over my life including 27 years at KSBJ. KSBJ wasn’t my calling. It was just the place I was doing my ministry at the time. It changed and now I am doing my ministry at PraiseLive. The calling though has never changed. When you get those mixed up and think the place God put you can’t change, then leaving the place becomes much more difficult. When you have your calling set, it is much easier to accept God has a new ministry assignment for you.
7. Trust God. After a job loss, I have seen God take many of our colleagues to new assignments that were even better. God will see you through it. I know it’s hard. Satan often wants to take away our confidence after a job loss. Don’t let him do it! Fight back. If you have lost your job, here are a few verses to hold on to:
Proverbs 3:5,6 (ESV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Philippians 3:13 (ESV) 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Tim McDermott is the COO at PraiseLive. He has over 40 year’s experience in radio and loves to help radio stations. He can be reached at [email protected]