Why Work?

It’s Workers’Day here in Nigeria.

Many countries around the world celebrate workers on the first day of May each year. And this holiday offers us a good opportunity to reflect on the purpose of work in itself.

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If we were to ask individuals randomly why they think humans work, the greater percentage would say it is in order to earn a living. By and large, people believe we work because we have to earn income to take care of our dependants and fulfil our responsibilities. In other words, work is done solely for the sake of earning a living.

In an earlier post, I wrote the following:

The Christian worldview has a high view of work. We find the origin of work at the dawn of Creation. God had made Man, planted a beautiful garden and placed man there to take care of it (Gen. 2:15). Some verses earlier in Gen 1:28, God had given humanity (the combined team of man and woman) a charge to develop and extend creation. This charge has been called the Cultural Mandate, and it denotes humanity’s divine assignment to complete and perfect the work of Creation as partners with God. Given these considerations, work thus takes on a new look. Far from being a mere necessity or a cursed burden, and far from being a platform for self-worship, it is a means by which we fulfil our task of developing the universe under God. Instead of a burden, it becomes a privilege. And instead of exalting ourselves, work becomes an avenue for glorifying God and serving others.

In other words:

  • Through work, we serve one another. No one works who does not add some value to others.  Google’s doodle for today comprises hand gloves, spanner, wrenches and measuring tape. Whether it is in clearing the garden, cleaning the car, or checking the books, we are helping someone. John Maxwell wrote: ‘Serving is the art and act of focusing on someone else’s interest instead of your own.’ When we work, we serve.

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  • Through work, we exercise dominion over the universe to God’s glory. God created Man for dominion and work is an avenue for this. When Adam tended the garden, when we extract minerals from the ground, when we develop a teenager’s artistic talent, when we manipulate sound to create music, we are developing the universe through work. And God smiles on us.
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