Wednesday, March 18, 2009

life is more than work

My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don't deny it. I'd rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh - anything but work.
Abraham Lincoln (from Al Gini, The Importance of Being Lazy, 15 quoted by Scot McKnight, 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, 101-102).

While in Ecclesiastes we're told that God can give us enjoyment in our work, and in all of life, received as a gift from God's hand, nevertheless, I think these are words we need to hear, particulary in busy, businesslike American society.

As Scot McKnight says in the book mentioned above, we're not to be centered in our work. Our lives are not to revolve around it. Not that we're not to work hard, and sometimes have to do so for long periods of time.

Our work should be one expression of our endeavor to be centered on "God and God's ways" (McKnight, 104). And we need, somehow by grace, to find pleasure in our work. Not that that is always possible. But by God's grace and gift we can find such pleasure. As we endeavor to do it as an expression of love for God and for others.

And one of the blessings of work is the rest and relaxation which follows. Add to this that we should do what we enjoy doing. And this should include loving God with all our strength. Because toilsome labor in and of itself is not normally desirable. We need to keep who and what we are to be centered on, in Jesus, in view.

What would you like to add to these thoughts?

8 comments:

Lanny said...

Yes, not just our center on Jesus but our right and left as well.

In the reconciliatory work of Christ oughtnt we to move past the curse and give glory to God by enjoying what he has given us, namely the ability to eat and cover our heads? Are we not to count it all joy? When would work, the ability to earn money not be any more or equally desirable to prison which Paul was pleased to do for the Lord?

As Christians we seem to keep giving ourselves a backdoor-out to not do what God asks and says we most certainly can do.

Have a good day today.

nAncY said...

i am not sure what work is and is not.

how does one know?

Ted M. Gossard said...

Lanny,
I don't think either the point Abraham Lincoln was making, or Scot in the chapter would deny anything at all that you're saying here.

I enjoyed working most hard today, very physical and even somewhat challenging. And was glad when it was done. And got quite a sound rest later here at home.

So your point is well taken. We do still have to work in a cursed fallen world. But all we do can be blessed of God, and have eternal consequences both for our lives, and for the world.

Thanks for the pushback, and good words.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
Good question. I guess what is being referred to here is one's "livelihood" as in making a living, especially, as opposed to leisure. It could include work at home as well. There are people who do seem to be centered on their work, or their life revolving around that.

I know America is taken up with entertainment as well. Living for the weekends. So for some, work may be just something they put up with. But for many, it is nearly all consuming.

Hopefully that addresses what you say here.

Lanny said...

Ted, it means she is saying "oo la la" or... you talk like you have a cold and never fininsh your words. But stick with oo la la.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Lanny. Oo la la according to wikipedia is supposed to mean "pleasant surprise." So you're saying it's a pleasant surprise when you can't so speak? Or that you have a runny nose or cold?

Bob Robinson said...

In my recent 5-part series on work, I said that work is a good thing. (1) Work is a major part of who we are as human beings and is part of the created order, not a result of the Fall. (2) We should find satisfaction in our work. (3) It is good that God provides through our work. (4) Also, work is the means by which we cooperate with others for the good of society (the biblical idea of “Shalom”).

However, one of the extremes that we have in our society concerning work is echoed in how we ask people to introduce themselves: “So, tell me, Bill, what do you do for a living?” Our society has allowed our work to be the major way we identify ourselves. If we are not working in a prestigious position, we may feel less of ourselves. If we feel that we are not accomplishing incredible things on a daily basis in our work, our identity as a human being is somehow lessened. This leads to what we call “workaholics.” But unlike other “-aholics,” a workaholic is often admired. He or she is driven to succeed, is seen as a leader, and is often offered the promotions.
I think that in order to overcome this extreme, we need (5) a proper understanding of Sabbath Rest.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for those good, helpful words, Bob. And for that link.

I agree. It is strange and I never like to ask a person that right away. Other matters are more important. And yes, we need to have a proper understanding of Sabbath Rest. Something I need to work on both in understanding and practice.