Why do we work? Ask around and you are likely to encounter more than a few strange, quizzical looks. Why would any sensible person even ask that question? We just have to, right? And to flourish at work, well that’s a nice idea, but…
Dictionary definitions of ‘work’ include words like ‘chore’ and ‘toil’. An online thesaurus I consulted gave ‘salt mine’ as a synonym!
How did work get such a bad rap?
Approaching work with the right attitude is one of the most significant challenges of the Christian life.
An oft-heard Christian response is: well, work is cursed because of original sin. Indeed, as Genesis 3 makes plain, because of human disobedience a lot of things change. Weeds appear among the good plants and providing for ourselves now involves painful toil.
Of course, work is a pathway to independence and dignity. Paid work (and that is not, by any means, the only kind) helps put food on the table.
But it is sad that for so many work is little more than that, a drudgery to be endured but not enjoyed. And far too often our workplaces are unhealthy — physically, psychologically, spiritually.
Work was meant to be good
But as we discussed with Brian Harris in another popular Open House podcast we often forget that it is not meant to be this way. Work that was good was part of God’s original intention for us and, despite everything, we still can strive for that type of work.
Indeed, approaching work with the right attitude is one of the most significant challenges of the Christian life.
However the rewards from discovering the God-designed purpose in our work (paid and unpaid) are more than worth the effort. They are, well, life changing.
The theology of work
Why is it that we seldom hear teaching about the theology of work?
According to author Kara Martin it may be because it is not taught in theological colleges. She says the result is a false separation between the secular and the sacred. Too often Godly work is seen as happening inside churches and ministries, while anything else, work in the secular realm, is viewed as without a Christian purpose.
To set that idea straight Kara wrote Workship. It has been transformational for so many who struggle with finding a sense of purpose in their work.
Now, Kara has written Workship 2: How to Flourish at Work.
When I spoke with Kara on Open House the response was incredibly positive. As well as exploring how to find Christian purpose in those things that occupy so much of our time we also talked about what happens when work becomes toxic?
Listen: ‘Workship’ author Kara Martin in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
Article supplied with thanks to Open House.
About the author: Stephen is a broadcaster, journalist, former member of parliament, and the Host of Open House – a weekly three-hour live talkback radio show exploring life, faith and hope from a Christian perspective.