A Balanced View of Work
A DEDICATED military officer worked through his lunch break in order to complete work urgently needed by his high-ranking superior officer. When his colleagues returned from lunch, they found him slumped over the work on his desk—dead.
Less than two hours later, his fellow officers were stunned when their superior telephoned and said: “It is a shame about ———, but I need a replacement by tomorrow morning!” It caused onlookers to wonder, Did the work performed by the officer constitute his only value to his superior?
This true experience highlights a reality—that a person’s worth is often measured exclusively by his or her usefulness to his employer. This might lead one to ask: Do I live to work, or do I work to live? What aspects of my life am I sacrificing for my job?
Making Wise Choices
Two of what some consider the most important decisions in life are often made impulsively—the choice of a marriage mate and the selection of employment. Both employment and marriage were once regarded as something permanent. So careful consideration was given to the selection of each. Often, advice from older friends or parents was sought.
These days, however, many seem to choose marriage mates almost exclusively on the basis of physical attractiveness, with the reservation that if things don’t work out, another partner can be sought. Similarly, many select employment essentially on its perceived glamour, without consideration of possible negatives. Or at least negative possibilities are quickly dismissed with the thought, ‘I’ll be able to handle them.’
Sadly, women in poorer countries frequently respond to enticing advertisements for jobs that promise a glamorous life elsewhere. Upon their arrival in the other country, however, they are often sent to brothels, where their existence as prostitutes is worse than the life that they had before. This appalling kind of modern slavery is a “scourge that won’t go away,” according to a World Press Review article.
Can people also be lured into accepting a legitimate job offer and then end up in a situation in which they feel enslaved? This very thing has happened! Some companies, for example, offer remarkable luxuries for the benefit of their workers. These may include dining rooms for use by family and friends, free car service and dry cleaning, dentists on site, free use of gymnasiums, and subsidized dining at expensive restaurants.
“One company has even paid for a dating agency for its overstretched staff,” reports journalist Richard Reeves. But beware! He explains: “These firms introduce schemes to make your life easier, on just one condition—that you hand it over to them; that you work 18-hour days and at weekends, eat, exercise, play, even sleep in the office in the service of their profits.”
Choosing a Better Alternative
An ancient proverb reads: “A live dog is better off than a dead lion.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4) Such a proverb raises the question, Is my job worth my life or my well-being? In answer, many have reappraised their situation and have found a way to provide adequately for themselves—as well as for their family if they have one—and also to live a happy, meaningful life.
True, doing this often calls for modesty and may require deciding what one’s needs actually are, rather than what one’s nonessential wants are. Those who are seeking position and prestige may reject more moderate choices and even consider foolish those who choose them. But what really is important in life? Have you stopped lately to consider this?
Wise King Solomon, who wrote the above-quoted proverb, had achieved far more in a material way than perhaps any other human. But summing up what is truly important, he wrote under divine inspiration: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
At the same time, Solomon valued work. “There is nothing better,” he wrote, “than that [a man] should eat and indeed drink and cause his soul to see good because of his hard work.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24) Jesus Christ, the Greater Solomon, similarly values work, as does his heavenly Father. “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working,” Jesus explained.—John 5:17; Matthew 12:42.
Yet, presently the human life span is limited. (Psalm 90:10) But Christ knew that lasting life on earth will be enjoyed under Kingdom rule, for which he taught his followers to pray. That is why he urged in his famous Sermon on the Mount: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matthew 6:9, 10, 33.
Regarding life under the rule of that Kingdom, the Bible promises: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; . . . the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.”—Isaiah 65:21, 22.
What a marvelous prospect—to enjoy indefinitely lasting life that includes meaningful rewarding work! A serious evaluation of our own situation may reveal that we need to reconsider certain aspects of our work today to avoid possible dangers that can adversely affect the possibility of our enjoying “the real life”—future life under God’s Kingdom. (1 Timothy 6:19) So may we show in our work, or whatever we are doing, that we have respect for the One who gave us life.—Colossians 3:23.
[Pictures on page 8, 9]
Under God’s Kingdom, people will enjoy work that is both safe and rewarding