Most adults spend a good amount of their waking hours at work and over the recent years many of us are feeling the constant battle to balance our jobs amongst other activities. Unfortunately for some people, ‘work’ has become a dirty word- even some Christians have been known to express work as being a necessary evil.
Here are a few incorrect perceptions and beliefs about work:
- Work is purely to pay the bills
- Work only becomes meaningful when you work for your Church
- Work is part of the curse of the fall
- There is “Secular work” and “Spiritual work”
- “I feel guilty because I get paid a lot”
- “I feel less worthy because I feel I am being paid too little”
- “My identity is tied to my job”
- My job is my work
- Work isn’t meant to be enjoyed; I just have to get on with it!
- Work is worldly
- Work is all that matters
- “I just want to get to the point when I can retire and do nothing!”
Maybe you can identify with one or more of these thought patterns and beliefs. Hopefully this post and the next few to follow should help you adopt the right perspective we ought to have towards our work.
What Do We Mean By Work?
In the most basic definition, work is that which is done with some focus on the energy expended. It is exertion of strength or faculties; physical or intellectual- effort directed to an end.
Many people feel that once they don’t have a job, they don’t have a life. This is usually because in the world we live in today, many think that a job and work are the same thing. This is not necessarily true. Your job could be part of your work, however, your work is what you offer the whole world as a person. With this in mind, my definition of work is: “Work is our gifted ability that we offer in service to humanity.” This, you can see, does not tie you just to a job.
Our Attitude Towards Work
As we all know, how we see things affects our attitude towards what we see; therefore, it is important that we have a healthy perspective and attitude towards work. From a Biblical perspective, work plays a significant role in God’s overall plan and there are a few principles that are essential to embrace in order to have the right attitude towards our work.
- God ordained work before the fall of man.
- In Genesis Chapter 2:15 we find that God put the man he created to work in the garden. It is important to note that this was before the fall of man, before man disobeyed God. Therefore work has always been part of God’s original creation. It is only after the fall that work became something that will take toil and sweat to accomplish Gen 3:17.
- When we work it is not for our boss but for the Lord.
- The follower of Jesus must remember that when we work, it is not only for those we see but the one we live for. Col 3:23 shows us that the one we work for is our Lord Jesus Christ who will reward us for our work.
- God expects us to work hard at our work
- God’s expectation is that we work hard (Prov 10:4-5). In his book “How Christianity changed the world“ Alvin Schmidt comments that in the early centuries, many Christians became more profitable than the average person simply because they worked hard and were known to always do a great job.
From this we might say that the person who believes work is the curse of God and the one who believes that work is a potential blessing of God will walk to their workplace with different strides and approach their work with fundamentally different attitudes.
Why Do We Work?
Hopefully, we have seen that work is part of the original plan of God. It then brings us to answer the question “Why Do We Work?” which should help us see why our work does matter.
From my various studies on this topic, one that I found most helpful was Life@Work by John Maxwell, Stephen Graves and Thomas Addington. I think it is one of the best books to read if you want to get a better understanding of the role your work plays in the grand scheme of life. Most of what I will be sharing has evolved from their research and my own personal experience and studies of the scriptures.
So Why Do We Work?
I can identify at least five purposes for work, namely:
- To Worship
- To Serve others
- To Model to others
- For your Character Development
- For your provision
What has been your view of work growing up? Has it changed over time? Share your comments below.