Do you dread Mondays and whoop for joy on Friday evening? Do you love what you do all week or simply feel frustrated? Some people hate working for others so much they start their own business only to find they now have customers – the ones you work so hard to win – and they are your new bosses.
Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study found that only 30% of Americans enjoy their jobs and their bosses. 70% hate their jobs. And that’s better than the world as a whole. Gallup’s 2013 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace found that 87% of workers are not engaged in their work. Only 13% are engaged, or invested in the company’s goals or outcomes.
So, is work a Blessing or a Curse? Is work a result of the fall of Adam and Eve? Or is it something that God designed to bring us blessing? We can begin to answer that question by considering what happens to people when they don’t have work. When someone loses their job, retires, is displaced because of a disaster or social unrest, what happens to them? We usually see them go through all the emotions of death. Disbelief: how could this happen to me? Bargaining: let me just try harder. Anger: I’ll sue them or they just are prejudiced against me. Depression: sleeping all day, aimlessly watching TV. And on it goes.
Work brings us purpose and meaning which tells us we are created to work. Our creative God is a worker and we are created in His image. Work is meant to bring us joy and fulfillment. So why doesn’t it?
We have to go back to the beginning: Genesis and the Creation Commission (Gen 1:28). We were given the awesome task of Stewarding and Subduing the creation of God. We got to work with Him in creating. What was work like then? Why does it seem so different now? There are four significant differences:
1. We were given stewardship over all creation. Adam knew his calling and what God had given him to do. Adam had a calling to work. Today the concept of work being a vocation or a calling is often lost. We follow our passion in school; we get the education our parents want us to have. We look at what would help us make the best living or have prestige. But do we look at God’s calling? Or is calling left to the pastor or missionary, not to the ordinary person in the business world? It is clear throughout the Bible that God calls people to a vocation. One simple example is the list of craftsmen who built the tabernacle (Exodus 35-50). They were given resources and a free hand to follow the designs God laid out. Stewardship and calling!
2. We were also told to subdue all creation. All the treasures of creation are given to us to use. The treasures of the earth are to be used in conjunction with the creativity woven into the fabric of our being by our creator. Subduing includes stewardship. We aren’t to waste what we have been given. I don’t believe we have the right to waste ourselves either – our gifts, given before we were born (Psalm 37), are to be used for His kingdom.
3. In Geneses, Adam and Eve worked in cooperation with God. God told Adam to name the animals, and he did. I can’t imagine that when Adam said, “this is a giraffe” God said, “no, that looks like a lion to me.” It comes down to whether or not we believe that God has our best interests at heart. Is He a spoiler that wants you to go to deepest, darkest Africa as a poverty-stricken missionary when what your heart wants to do is business? If your heart is submitted to His will, then doing business is His highest calling on your life.
4. Last, but not least, Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening. They didn’t stress over how much they had to do, nor did they have to be on the job 24/7. They knew when to rest and when to share their day with their Friend in the cool of the evening. We often forget that. We feel so responsible that we cannot turn off our phone and just enjoy the place the Father has put us.
This is the beginning of the Theology of Work. Of course there is more. Without this understanding and World View we will not–cannot–create a business that blesses. Whether we work for someone else or begin our own business. It won’t be a blessing if we don’t understand the Creation Commission and the Theology of Work.
Of course there are more areas to explore around work, but what do you think? Is it possible to actually enact a Theology of Work in today’s business world? Respond and let me know your thoughts. Are you part of the 70-87% that do not find fulfillment in their work? If not, what makes it different for you? If so, what makes you dislike it?