Work! Just mentioning the word puts a bad taste in the mouth of many. Too many see work as a necessary evil to live. They spend the majority of their waking hours in places they hate and live under the belief this is their lot in life. Too few find their true passion or calling in their vocation. For many, work becomes their life, trying to find satisfaction in the company or the job. The obsession with the job overshadows the other parts of their life, family and faith.
Chasing the salary and the title become a singular focus for most. For the hourly worker, finding a job that pays one dollar more an hour is huge. For the executive, the goal is to get more stock and bonus. While the dollar amounts may be different, it does not matter if you are a entry level or executive as work is central to our lives. It is just too bad that 70% of Americans are dissatisfied in their jobs. The main reason, which will be explored in this series, is too many do not take a biblical view of work and working.
In order to fully explore biblical success in our jobs, we must first understand the concept of work. In some ways it is as abstract as time, emotions or faith. In other ways it is tangible and can be the heaviest weight we will ever carry. Like time, work can not be ignored. In fact, we were created to work. From the very beginning, man and women were designed to work. Look at it this way, we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Not only do we have a physical appearance similar to the creator of the universe, we are to imitate His actions. Work falls into this category. God created the universe in 6 days. He worked for six days and then in Genesis 2:2 we are told, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”
After God rested from His work, he took a day off. He did that to role model to Adam that he should work hard, but also take time to rest. In Genesis 2:15 we find that God puts Adam in the “Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” We were made to work. It is part of what were are suppose to do on earth. In John 5:16 Jesus tells us “My Father has been working until now, and I, too, am working.” Not only did Jesus work as a carpenter, he worked at his ministry for three years before His death and resurrection.
In fact, the word work, in all of its various forms, is mentioned more than 800 times in the bible. Most of the people we meet in the bible work or conducted some form of ministry. We can’t get away from the fact that work is central to living. Solomon, who was the wisest person on earth asked the question in Ecclesiastes 1:3, “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?” It is a question most of us ask at one point or another. Solomon runs the gamut when it comes to work. It is important to note that Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon when he had distanced himself from God. So he wrote this book in response to what life would be like if God was not around. Which is why he frames work in the following ways:
- Ecclesiastes 2:24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,”
- Ecclesiastes 3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
- Ecclesiastes 4:8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business!
However, Solomon comes to his senses by the end of the book and writes this in Ecclesiastes 5:18-19.
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.
The good news is God is with us and He designed for work to have benefits – a gift from God. Work is not meant to be our god, meaning we give it all of ourselves. However, work is meant to have benefits. We are meant to find success in our work. As long as we keep God in the forefront.
Work is designed to have benefits for us. Proverbs 12:14 gives us a peek into this idea. “From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.” Of course part of the reward is money to live on, however, it goes much deeper than that. We will look at the benefits of work later in the series. Given work is suppose to be beneficial, the question has to be how can we make work something that is good and not something to be endured?
Over the next thirty days we will explore topics such as:
- Characteristics of a successful worker
- Reasons and motivation to work
- Work-Life balance
- Working to help others
- Core Human Resource concepts: performance management, compensation, progressive discipline, heath and safety, division of labor and mentorship
- Benefits of working (beyond compensation)
I am excited to see where this goes and what new topics pop up. If you have any inputs or thoughts, please let me know. I will be happy to address them in future posts.