Some people live for the weekend. They want to forget about work, go to a bar, and let loose.
Others prefer to work for the weekend. They are more than happy to either get paid time-and-a-half or just work because they can climb up the corporate ladder. Work is more than a means to make a living, it is their identity.
This may explain why many people who retire die so soon after their retirement. Their identity is linked to what they are doing.
In fact, many retirees have “projects”. Working for charities or starting one create a purpose and meaning to their lives. They feel valuable.
But, inevitably, people get burned or burned-out. Despite their best efforts, they are let go when the company down-sizes, or they have put so many hours into their work that they begin to have physical and emotional issues.
They are forced to take “time off”.
Maybe you identify with these people. Maybe you find yourself on the other end of things, hating your job and wishing you could do something else. Maybe you have pursued your “calling” but find that it doesn’t pay the rent.
In any of these cases, a person’s self-esteem can be affected. Disillusionment is not just a five-syllable word, it’s the reality of everyday life. It’s felt more strongly in a culture where we see hip-hop stars making seven or eight figure salaries.
It’s as if the world is “not right”.
And, that’s right. The world is not right. It is rare to find people who are completely happy with every facet of their job. It is rare to find that healthy person who has balanced life and career. It is rare to find work that is fulfilling and financially secure (even if you’re very talented).
So, what are we to do if things are not going as expected? There has to be someone to blame.
We may be afraid to admit it, but that someone is God. If I have the degree, the experience and the personality, it must be some situational force preventing my success. It must be God.
So, people go one of two ways: 1. Get religion (get God on your side), or, 2. Become an atheist (get rid of the problem). It’s the natural outflow of the human heart.
And both of these are efforts at overcoming the reality that things are not right in the world. Work is unsatisfactory, so I am going to work at fixing it.
We’ve been trying to do this since the building of the tower of Babel.
Human effort and work will never succeed in fulfilling our deepest need for identity and fulfillment.
Consider Genesis 3:17-19:
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
In [f]toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the [g]plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”
Wow, what a buzz-kill! On the other hand, dissatisfaction with work has been a common theme throughout human existence. We share a human link with Adam.
So, if the world is not right, and we can’t get complete satisfaction from our work, how are we supposed to have value and an identity?
All of that is answered in the work of God through Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 answers this way:
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [a]he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
The ultimate worker, the Son of God, was both the creator of all creation (see John chapter 1) and the re-creator. In Him alone, does our life have meaning. In Him alone will we find our identity. In Him alone will we find value and worth. Not because we worked so hard at “getting religion” but that He worked Himself to death … on a cross outside of Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago.
And, He’s still working for you and me. Bring your worries to Him. Bring your complaints about your job to Him. Bring your hopes and dreams to Him. Tell Him about your burn-out, your boredom, your lack of enthusiasm, your workaholism, your successes, your failures, and your frustrations. He’s not there to condemn you. He’s there to listen, hear, and take all of it before the heavenly Father who makes all things new … through Jesus Christ alone.
To the glory of God, Amen.