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Is Work a Curse, or Inherently Good?

October 9, 2012

I recently overheard a conversation between two relative strangers: a middle-aged, mothering woman was asking a scrappy-headed and pockmark-faced young man in his mid-twenties how he liked his job.

“It’s okay,” he said, staring down at his unlaced black Skechers.

“Pays the bills, right?” she prompted with an encouraging smile.

“Yeah, no – it’s not so bad. For now.”

His “it’s okay for now” response seems to sum up the vague sense of detachment experienced by a large swath of working folks these days. A recent survey from Right Management revealed that over two-thirds of respondents were unhappy at work.

This comes as no surprise to some, arguing that work is nothing more than a curse, a punishment from God. After all, isn’t that how it was depicted in the early account of Genesis after the Fall? “By the sweat of the brow you will eat your food”  (Gen. 3:19). So lace up your bootstraps, or your Skechers, or whatever, suck it up and march forth into the prickly thickets of the gnarly workforce. Any naïve attempts to package it up differently will only lead to disappointment and disillusionment. The human race screwed up a long time ago, and that’s that.

Well, honestly. This is quite depressing.

Work is simply an act of creating or producing output. It can take all sorts of shapes and forms, whether we get paid for it or not. And come to think of it, weren’t Adam and Eve working before the Fall, anyway? Sure they were. They were subduing the earth and naming animals and making babies, just like God told them to do. The only difference was they had the benefit of that delicious hyper-local super-organic fruit dropping right off the trees, which left them free to pursue more creative and fulfilling outlets rather than tilling the soil.

Continue reading this post at The High Calling. 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2012 9:10 am

    It’s all in how we approach it, isn’t it? I’ve told my employees to not ever feel like they were getting their check from management but from our customers and to remember that those customers are standing next to them in the grocery line and sitting across from them at the little league field. Somehow, I think it makes it all a bit better.

  2. pastordt permalink
    October 9, 2012 1:49 pm

    You got it – work PRECEDES the fall – there are tasks assigned and they are viewed as joyful tasks. And they still can be viewed in that way. SOME of the tasks, SOME of the time. :>)

  3. October 9, 2012 4:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I believe the attitude we have towards our work, as God-given, makes all the difference even if we find ourselves doing something mundane everyday while we dream of something else. It’s not easy to take that stance sometimes, but God will help us!

  4. October 11, 2012 8:21 am

    Jim, great stuff as always! When I first read the post title, I thought, “of course work isn’t a curse” but then I hear the conversation that you share and the Biblical account. I think that we have to reclaim the dignity of work without countering the Bible. The Catholic teachings on work are really positive- a process of co-creation w/God.

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