What do we think about our employment? Is it something we have to do to fund our enjoyment or is it something we would do for any reasonable compensation because it brings us joy? Assuming there is some income associated with that work, what does one do with it? Let’s look at the various aspects of work in more detail, and how one’s worldview impacts that work and its outcomes.
Webster’s defines the work we would relate to employment as, 1) a job or activity that you do regularly especially in order to earn money, 2) the place where you do your job, or 3) the things that you do especially as part of your job. Whereas Webster’s defines career, for the purposes of our discussion, as, 1) a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life, or 2) a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.Webster’s definition of career is similar to mine, but misses the joyful component. It’s hard to imagine expending the time and effort to train, etc., for something without the anticipation of enjoying it. I think we were designed to fit into a larger community, with contributions in those areas of our giftedness.
Does anyone care about my work or how I do it? A previous reference has indicated that work has both intrinsic and extrinsic value. The extrinsic value is that which is produced by the work. The ultimate example of work is the Creation, after which the Creator Himself “rested from all the work … that he had done.” Less tangible, but perhaps more important, is the intrinsic value of work. In the same example, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
I think the satisfaction, or joy, that accompanies one’s work – whether or not you call it a “career” – is the difference between surviving another day or moving on towards goals. Though some careers require a certain level of knowledge and understanding, we were all created to work . Moreover, we are to do it, regardless of its nature, with care for ourselves, our coworkers, our neighbors and our environment.
As individuals, how are we to think about our work? Is there a point to our work, beyond the self-sufficiency and joy it may produce? There is the potential for rest, peace and a hope for the future, as previously discussed. Beyond these intrinsic values, there is the issue of greed vs charity. At the extremes, we have Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens verses the One who gave everything. While still a school boy, I couldn’t wait to get a job to make a few dollars ($0.75/hr watering plants at a wholesale nursery farm). I think my motivation was more independence that altruism.
Within the Biblical worldview, how one deals with ones resources – time, treasure and talent, to be complete, is one of the most discussed topics . Decades later, as an employee with a great career, the question became how long do I keep working – how much is enough. Do I need 10-20% more, 100% more, 1000% more, etc? Thanks to some wise, Biblical counsel, I retired early – changing my focus from primarily myself and my family, to include others.
As you work through life, what kind of person are you to be around? Does your worldview help? I’ve already referenced a good resource for a Biblical economic model. Therein, ideas generate products, jobs and wealth that either grows the company or cares for the employees and the needy. A great, recent example is a new coffee stop, The Well Coffeehouse, that uses all its profits to drill water wells for the needy, around the world.
Our hearts should be heavy for those who work hard – they are not lazy – but they just can’t seem to get ahead. We have a duty to identify and care for these folks. Yes, one can work hard, with a Godly perspective, but that does not release us from helping them with their need. Ultimately, no one will “care how much we know until they know how much we care.”