The worldwide pandemic has led to costly losses for so many people. In the United States alone, almost 600,000 people have died from COVID-19, with many more possibly permanently harmed. Our economy came to a halt; students missed out on a year of face-to-face schooling; families were separated from each other that led to isolation and loneliness.
In the face of these hardships, we may question what good God can bring from the pandemic in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
The changes brought about by the pandemic, however, have not all been bad. Here are five ways that COVID-19 has helped people to live out their calling:
1. The pandemic has given people time to re-think their careers and lives.
With the patterns of our lives and work greatly disrupted and forced lockdowns keeping close to 70% of workers at home, many people took a new look at their work lives and realized they didn’t like what they saw. COVID-19 has created what is now being called “The Great Resignation,” resulting in nearly two-thirds of U.S. workers looking for a new job. Why is this happening? Research has shown that people tend to quit their jobs after experiencing a “turnover shock”: a life event that precipitates self-reflection about one’s job satisfaction. Many people saw with a new level of clarity that their work didn’t fit them well, was not rewarding, and/or didn’t provide enough flexibility.
What about you? Is your work a good fit for your gifts, values and life demands?
2. Many employers found that working from home produced better work results, paving the way for increased opportunities to work from home.
A Harvard Business Review study found that the pandemic has made people’s work more effective than when they worked in the office. The study found that lockdown helped by:
- Increasing workers’ focus on the tasks that really mattered, resulting in them spending 12% less time being drawn into large meetings and 9% more time interacting with customers and external partners.
- Enabling people to take responsibility for their own schedules. It has been found that people will do 50% more through personal choice because they see particular activities as being important.
- Streamlining work and making it more efficient. When people evaluated their work tasks before and during lockdown, the number of tasks rated as “tiresome” dropped from 27% to 12%.
If you desire is to work at home, the good news is that a much higher percentage of employers are open to workers being remote for at least part of their workweek. You may be able to negotiate this type of arrangement with your employer or future employers by pointing out these statistics. When preparing to talk to your employer about increased remote work, be ready to describe the benefits they would experience from having you work from home.
What are, or would be, the benefits for your employer of having you work from home?
3. Virtual work and education has increased the technology skills and opportunities for workers and students.
Since the first quarter of 2020 remote work trends and expectations have changed. Initially, employers weren’t prepared for their entire workforce to work from home, but with necessity driving innovation, employers found ways to develop and manage a virtual workforce. A recent study found that "since 2020 people have been meeting by video calls 50% more since COVID-19." Many who were not tech-savvy were forced to learn about Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex and other technology very quickly.
COVID-19 forced schools and teachers to quickly provide learning opportunities online. This has been a challenge for teachers, students and parents; however, a high percentage of teachers and students now have increased confidence in using technology in the classroom and online. Many school districts also had to problem-solve how to overcome the “digital divide” as they tried to serve students who did not have a computer or Wi-Fi in the home. This has led to increased efforts to address this inequity, and increased opportunities for all students to have access to and become proficient with technology.
Increased use of technology for meetings, classes, workshops, conferences and more has made connecting with thought leaders and learning more accessible. Distance no longer was a barrier, and with many events being recorded for later viewing, time was much less of a factor in learning, as well. Opportunities for learning new technology skills have never been better as there are free and inexpensive tutorials and training that can be found by simply googling what you want to learn.
One example of low-cost learning for the fastest-growing technology sectors is Google Career Certificates. Google’s online learning programs now cover user-experience design, project management and data analytics — and include an Android development certification course.
What technology have you learned since the pandemic began? What do you want to learn? What technologies will be helpful for your future career choices? Have you added this knowledge to your resume?
4. Working from home — and not having to commute — can provide more balance in your other callings such as being a spouse, parent, family member, neighbor and/or church member.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans work an average of 44 hours per week, or 8.8 hours per day. According to a national Gallup poll, the average number is 47 hours per week, or 9.4 hours every day, with many reporting working 50 hours each week.
If you are working 45 hours or more a week away from home, some of your life roles — your other life callings — are probably suffering. For example, if you have had a hard day at work, followed by a long commute, you probably don't have a lot of energy for playing with your kids, planning a date with your wife/husband, or volunteering for your church or community. Gaining back a few hours a week from not commuting provides you with precious time to invest in your spouse, children, family and friends.
For parents with young children, you might be thinking "I love my kids but I don't want more time with them at home." That is understandable! From a child's point of view, however, someday in the future, they may reminisce about the pandemic and say, "I loved the time during COVID because we got to spend so much time with Mom and Dad!" Hearing those words would be a great reward.
What are your most important callings? How does/would working from home give you more opportunities to intentionally live out your callings?
5. Having more time by working efficiently at home can help you to keep your primary calling primary.
Your primary calling, and all of humanity’s primary calling, is a calling to salvation through Jesus Christ and to be disciples of Jesus, following Him in our daily lives. We keep that primary calling primary through spiritual disciplines such as praying, studying/meditating on the Bible, fasting, worshiping and serving others. Working from home can provide you with more time to invest in your most important calling of following Christ.
What is the state of your primary calling to follow Jesus? Are you following closely or lagging behind? How does/would working from home help you to keep your primary calling primary?
COVID-19 has been difficult, and God is present to comfort and help those who are struggling and grieving. He also can — and does — bring good out of even the most difficult circumstances. This article has described some positives that have emerged from the pandemic in spite of the challenging and even heartbreaking circumstances it has brought to many.
How have you seen God work in your life during the pandemic? Are there changes you think God is calling you to make in your life and work? If God has used the pandemic as a wake-up call in your life, make sure to respond. He is ready and able to equip you to live your calling.
Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck are the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. As National Certified Career Counselors and Life Calling Coaches, they are recognized experts in helping people identify their giftedness and find their calling in work and life. You can also find more resources at ChristianCareerCenter.com, ChurchJobsOnline.com, PastorJobs.net, ChristianJobFair.com and CareerFitTest.com.