Friday, March 6, 2009

Why Work is Cursed, and What to do about it

I, today, on the sixth of March in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Nine, experienced the perplexing feeling of the mental fog of exhaustion as every semblance of joy in my work suddenly evaporated. (I normally love my work--all of it.)
The warning signs mounted over previous days. Ever since I approached real burn out in 2005, I have struggled with these symptoms when life’s gotten too busy and I have tended to get the cart before the horse.

These, of course, are only the symptoms. The cause is far more insidious if I’m anywhere near the heart of the problem. You see, every now and then I wander off the right track and get caught up in the activity and busyness of life--it’s not the sort of outcome that’s conducive to a real spirituality. I somehow forget God.

There is something that comes before the busyness, the work, the tasks, the flurry that is life... it’s the right mindset and frame of heart to begin with. In his chapter, What Came First: Workers or Worshipers?, A.W. Tozer says, “I do not think we should ever work until we learn to worship. A worshiper can work with eternal quality in his work but a worker who does not worship is only piling up wood, hay and stubble for the time when God sets the world on fire.”[1]
In other words, the work of the worker is meaningless. Sound familiar? I resonate with this on a day like today. There was very little or no ‘eternal quality’ in what I produced today. The essence of this message is contained in Psalm 127:1-2...
“Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (NIV)
There is a fundamental reason work is cursed; it’s done without need of, or recognition of God. It can only be blessed when we are right with God i.e. thankful with life and grateful for all we have, including the people around us. Work is blessed when it is an act of worship, a sacrifice to God.

If you wonder why you have to work and loath the general idea, think about this: all work can be blessed and all work can be an act of worship i.e. it can provide an intrinsic sense of joy.
Without God in our work, we can get very little lasting gain, fulfilment or enjoyment.

Why do I write this? I’m asking God for a fresh injection of his Spirit to nudge me toward him, before my work. Without my work... taking it away... my fundamental purpose is the same; to follow God. Unreservedly, I’m his!

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] A.W. Tozer, The Worship Driven Life, The Reason We Were Created – Ed. James L. Snyder (London: Monarch Books, 2008), p. 101.

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