May 23, 2016
The Worth of Work
I was never a very good student in school. In fact, I wasn’t great at anything my peers valued. I was strong and fast, but I couldn’t see well enough (and I refused to wear glasses) to become a standout athlete. I didn’t learn to read until I was 19 so I certainly was no intellectual growing up. But I did (and still do) possess two qualities that my grandfather taught me: hard work and perseverance. I often out-work my peers and I NEVER give up!
I started working full time at 15 years old, and have never been out of a job for more than 3 days since. I honestly don’t understand people who can’t find a job. Obviously, finding a job you enjoy, well that’s another thing. But allowing the government or anybody else to take care of you, while you are capable of doing something – anything productive – feels wrong to me.
Work vs. Welfare
I have heard many people make statements like, “Why should I go to work for minimum wage when welfare pays me twice that much for staying home?”
Dude! Where is your dignity? How do you live with yourself when people go to work every day to take care of you, and you stay home and watch them work?
In fact the Bible says, “… if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” (2 Thes. 3:10)
The apostle Paul went on to say, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”(1 Timothy 5:8)
I can hear it now, “Kris, you are being so judgmental!”
I didn’t say it, I just quoted the Bible!
Of course, there are real circumstances that make it nearly impossible for some people to work. If that’s you, then I am not talking about you! But even if there’s a reason that you can’t work, most of you can find creative ways to serve your community and help your city be a better place to live.
Benefits to Work
There are several benefits to work:
1. Hard work creates a sense of ownership for the things we buy. In contrast, people don’t tend to take care of the things that are given to them for free.
2. Work contributes to the wellbeing of a family and community in which others benefit from our labors.
3. We were “created for good works in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, when we work we are fulfilling our God-given purpose.
4. Other people see our “good works” and give honor to God for (and through) our lives. In other words, good works give glory to God.
5. God told Cain, “If you do good, will not your countenance be lifted up?” So work helps our sense of self worth.
6. Hard work also gives us a sense of purpose – a reason to breathe air and take up space. It’s sad to see how many people live their whole lives waiting to retire, and then die two years after they stop working.
7. According to Solomon, wise, hard work leads to prosperity and abundance. But laziness ends in poverty.
8. Working with others to accomplish a goal(s) bonds us and leads to a sense of belonging to something meaningful.
9. The idle mind is the playground of the devil; therefore, hard work is spiritual warfare! It occupies our minds with productive thoughts and thereby (because we can’t think about two things at once) leaves less space for destructive thinking.
In fact, when the unemployment rate rises in a city, most of the other negative social statistics rise with it. An increase in the crime and divorce rates, along with a rise in mental illness are just a few examples of the impact that joblessness has on a community.
10. Hard work is often good for our physical bodies, providing exercise, which helps to improve our wellbeing. Of course, this depends on the type of work you do.
11. Hard work sets an example for our children of the way noble people gain wealth and provide for those we love.
12. Heidi Baker said, “Love looks like something.” Therefore, work is a great way to say “I love you” to our families.
13. Hard work and wise stewardship are the foundation for leaving an inheritance to our children. Proverbs puts it like this: “A righteous man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” So money obtained through labor is a righteous expression of a legacy mindset.
Handout vs. Hand Up
These are just a few of the many benefits of hard work. Therefore, with these things in mind, it’s easy to understand why giving people a handout (instead of a hand up) actually undermines their divine destiny, and perpetuates a co-dependent culture. Not only do handouts delay the inevitable, they actually validate the spirit of entitlement and increase the cycle of poverty!
I worked almost exclusively with the poor for the first 20 years of my ministry, and the harsh reality is (with a few exceptions) that I have never met a more thankless group of people in my life. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe that being poor necessarily makes you humble. In fact, many people’s pride keeps them poor. Some refuse to work in an entry level job because they think it’s beneath them, while many others are so arrogant that they will not let a boss tell them what to do! “Harsh!” you say. Maybe, but it’s much more common than you think, especially in first world countries.
Certainly there are many people who really want an opportunity to work and help themselves out of poverty. We need to create opportunities to help people experience the gift of work and the many wonderful manifestations of laboring for prosperity.
We also have to consider the children of these people who are the victims of these cultures, and who, without prosperous training, will perpetuate this dysfunctional cycle to their children’s children.
Let’s WORK together to end the cycle of poverty in our generation. God bless you and yours!
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