Monday, June 3, 2013

Work: The Great American Idol…Or Is It?

By Julie Gernand
According to a recent article by ABC 7 News:
“Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. More than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese. And Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too.”
                                         
And a USNEWS.com article states this:
“As if we needed any more evidence that Americans are workaholics, new research shows that nearly half of all workers don't take all their vacation days."
                                                                                                                                 
It’s no shocker that many Americans suffer from “work overload.” 

We’re a coffee-guzzling, daily-long-commuting, stay-late-at-work-to-get-ahead country. Parents miss precious time with their children just to answer a few more e-mails, and Americans often put getting a higher position in their company over integrity.

The sad part? We’re abusing a good thing.

Yes, that’s right, work IS a good thing!

God created us for work. He created us to care for the world he gave to us.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 
(Genesis 2:15)

Work is not a result of the fall of man. To be able to work is such a blessing! To be able to help others through our work, and to contribute in a positive way to this world we were given to care for is a true gift from God.   After all – Jesus did LOTS of work while he was here on Earth! As a young man he worked for his father as a carpenter. When he got older, he worked to point others toward his truth through teachings, lessons, and by performing miracles.

When we work, we are imitating our living God.

Remember Genesis?

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2).

The question is: What kind of an example are we being through our work? Are we being overzealous and spending ALL of our time and energy at the workplace? So much so that it is becoming unhealthy and straining other relationships and duties?

OR

Perhaps you deal with a different sort of work-related idol. Perhaps you don’t even realize what you ARE dealing with:

LAZINESS.

Yes, sisters. Laziness can be just as much of a problem as “work-a-aholism”, yet it never seems to be acknowledged as such.

Do we long for days without work? Do we despise being in our workplace so much that we’ll take any excuse not to be there, or take unnecessary “sick days” just to avoid doing what we’re supposed to do?

Forbes magazine told us this a few months ago:

 "According to the study, 77 percent of workers believe that the millennial generation has a different attitude toward workplace responsibility than other age groups. “Furthermore,” writes Ely Portillo, “68 percent of respondents said they think millennial workers are less motivated to take on responsibility and produce quality work than others.”'

According to Pastor Bugh’s recent sermon at Wheaton Bible Church, the generation of folks born from 1980-2000 is plagued with the weaknesses of entitlement, narcissism, and laziness. 

And while that may be an over-generalization, we cannot deny that this generation’s attitude toward work is different from that of their parents and grandparents.

One who is slack in his work
    is brother to one who destroys. – Proverbs 18:9

 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him,
    because his hands refuse to work.
All day long he craves for more,
    but the righteous give without sparing. –Proverbs 21: 25-26

So how can we keep ourselves in check and not overload ourselves, nor be too slack in our diligence?

ONE: Beware of “selective laziness”.
Perhaps you are very diligent in your work in your office, per se, but when you arrive home, you have little energy for family members or friends. Perhaps you work heartily in one area, but when it comes to maintaining friendships or, say, maintaining your own health you find yourself slacking. Pray for wisdom in how best to balance your activities. No one is perfect, and in our sinful ways we will all fail in some area. Start by acknowledging one area of your life you would like to “slow down” or “step-up” to, and make a plan to change your behavior.

TWO: Make a list of your values and priorities, and change your behavior accordingly.
A very wise friend of mine once told me that you will not be happy in whatever endeavor you choose to pursue unless it also aligns with your values. For example, if Cindy highly values time with her family, it wouldn’t be wise for her to choose a job halfway across the country. For even if she works very hard at her job, she won’t be close to what matters the most to her. If you find yourself struggling in a certain area, ask yourself what needs to change in order to also spend time with/among the things that you value.

THREE: Know that God offers forgiveness for all sins.
Okay, so you realize that you need to change some of your behavior. Great! The Lord knows you intimately, and knows what is best for you. Pray for forgiveness, and know that the Lord works all things for the good of those who love Him! (Romans 8:28)

Lord, Forgive our failings. Forgive us when we give too much, and when we give too little. Thank you for giving ALL that had in your son Jesus so that we might have our very lives! Thank you for loving us no matter what our behavior. We love you!

Amen.

Do you tend to lean more heavily towards one extreme or the other when it comes to work? 

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