Last week we learned how we are made for work – when God created (his work) the world and us, we were meant to engage in work with him. But it didn’t take long for humans to rebel against God and his plan for us, and now everything is not as it should be…including work.
We went off the metaphorical train tracks we described last week – God had given us a good context, direction and plan for life, but we decided to strike out for ourselves. We are now missing the context for our lives, and life is no longer integrated.
This is what happened after that rebellion from God, in Genesis 3:17-19
And to Adam he said, …cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
God was stating the natural consequence of humanity’s departure from him and his care – life will now be painful labour. It can take everything out of you – if you have ever tried to start something new, grow food, win a game, or lead people well, you know this is true. Things are never as easy as they should or could be. Something is broken in us.
We can also see this in our frustration with the little things. Things that should be easy can be really hard.
What followed is that humans clothed themselves in an act of self-protection, which we also see in them is trust and anger we regularly have for other people, especially those we work with.
The humans also started to blame each other, the rest of creation, and God. Sound like your workplace?
So how does work end up being broken today?
At one extreme, we can live for work. We can be driven by a goal, but the problem is those goals are always fleeting – the goal itself never lives up to its hype. We are always finding we arrive somewhere, only to be driven ahead by something more, or something better. The product never matches what was in your head.
Or work becomes pointless, running after something with no real value, simply because it’s the “logical” next step in a career path.
Or work becomes selfish, all about becoming famous, wealthy, or powerful, rather than producing or generating a good for society. We can start to break rules, hide things, or violate some ethics because we are so driven.
We always need to come back to the question of why – why am I working? Why has God put me here? Given me these resources, these skills, this power, this place?
Question: Why do you work? Whatever effort you exert – why do you do it?
Acknowledgements: Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavour and Work & Rest