How to Cultivate a Balanced View of Work
IN TODAY’S high-pressure world of global markets, cutthroat competition, and mass production, many people do not look forward to going to work each day. Yet, we should enjoy our work. Why? Because we were created in God’s image—and God takes pleasure in his work. For example, when reviewing what he had done at the end of the six creative “days,” or long periods of time, “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good,” states Genesis 1:31.
Jehovah’s love of work is undoubtedly one reason he is called “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) Is it not reasonable, then, that the more we imitate him, the happier we become? In this regard, King Solomon of ancient Israel, an outstanding builder and organizer, wrote: “Every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.”—Ecclesiastes 3:13.
To cultivate a balanced, wholesome view of work in today’s rapidly changing workplace can be a challenge. But Jehovah God blesses those who heed his loving direction. (Psalm 119:99, 100) Such ones become valued and trusted employees and therefore are less likely to lose their job. They also learn to see their life and work not just from a material perspective but from a spiritual one. This enables them to make responsible decisions in life and to see that their happiness and sense of security are not bound up with their job or in the often fickle job market. (Matthew 6:31-33; 1 Corinthians 2:14, 15) It helps them to cultivate a truly balanced work ethic.
Cultivate a Godly Work Ethic
Some people are workaholics, putting their job before all else. Others live for day’s end when they can quit work and go home. What is the balanced view? The Bible answers: “Better is a handful of rest than a double handful of hard work and striving after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6) Working too hard or too long is, in fact, counterproductive—a vain “striving after the wind.” Why so? Because we may well do injury to the very things that are responsible for our greatest happiness: our relationship with family and friends, our spirituality, our health, and even our longevity. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) The balanced view is to be content with less material gain along with a reasonable measure of peace rather than be loaded down with a double dose of work along with strife and misery.
In encouraging such a balanced view, the Bible does not endorse laziness. (Proverbs 20:4) Laziness corrodes self-respect and the respect others may have for us. Worse still, it damages our relationship with God. The Bible frankly states that the person who refuses to work does not deserve to eat at the expense of others. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Rather, he should change his ways and work hard, thus providing honorably for himself and his dependents. Through hard work he may even be able to help those who are truly in need—a practice God’s Word encourages.—Proverbs 21:25, 26; Ephesians 4:28.
Trained From Childhood to Esteem Work
Good work habits do not come about by accident; they are learned early in life. Hence, the Bible exhorts parents: “Train up a boy [or girl] according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Besides setting a good example as workers themselves, wise parents begin training their little ones by giving them tasks around the home appropriate to their age. Even though children may chafe at some chores, they will come to see themselves as valued members of the family—especially when Mom and Dad commend them for a job well done. Sadly, some parents do virtually everything for their offspring, perhaps out of mistaken kindness. Such parents do well to reflect on Proverbs 29:21, which says: “If one is pampering one’s servant [or offspring] from youth on, in his later life he will even become a thankless one.”
Conscientious parents also take a keen interest in their children’s schooling, encouraging them to learn and to work hard while at school. This can stand young ones in good stead later when they enter the work force.
Be Wise in Your Choice of Work
While not telling us what kind of work to pursue, the Bible gives us fine guidelines so that our spiritual advancement, service to God, and other important responsibilities are not compromised. For example, the apostle Paul wrote: “The time left is reduced. Henceforth let those . . . making use of the world [be] as those not using it to the full; for the scene of this world is changing.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31) There is nothing permanent or completely stable in the present system of things. Giving all our time and energy to it is like investing our entire life’s savings in a house that is built in a flood zone. What an imprudent investment!
Other Bible translations render the phrase “not using it to the full” as “not become engrossed in it” and “not fully occupied with them.” (The Jerusalem Bible; Today’s English Version) Wise people never lose sight of the fact that the time “is reduced” for the present system and that to be “engrossed,” or “fully occupied,” in it will inevitably lead to disappointment and regret.—1 John 2:15-17.
‘God Will by No Means Forsake You’
Jehovah knows our needs even better than we do. He also knows where we are in the outworking of his purpose. Hence, he reminds us: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For [God] has said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) How comforting those words are! Imitating God’s loving concern for his people, Jesus devoted a substantial portion of his famous Sermon on the Mount to teaching his disciples the right view of work and of material things.—Matthew 6:19-33.
Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to heed those teachings. For example, when an employer invited a Witness, an electrician, to work overtime regularly, the employee in this instance declined. Why? Because he did not want his secular work to intrude on the time he devoted to his family and to spiritual matters. Since he was an excellent and trusted worker, his employer respected his wishes. Of course, things do not always turn out that way, and one may have to look for other employment in order to maintain a balanced life-style. Nevertheless, those who place their full trust in Jehovah usually find that their good conduct and work ethic earn them the favor of their employer.—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
When All Work Will Be Rewarding
In the present, imperfect system of things, employment and employment prospects will never be free of problems and uncertainties. In fact, things may get worse as the world becomes more unstable and economies seesaw or even falter. But this situation is temporary. Soon, no one will be out of work. What is more, all work will be truly absorbing and rewarding. How is that possible? What will bring about such a change?
Through his prophet Isaiah, Jehovah pointed forward to such a time. “I am creating new heavens and a new earth,” said Jehovah, “and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” (Isaiah 65:17) He was speaking of a new government of his making, under which a totally new and different human society will become a reality.—Daniel 2:44.
Regarding the way people will live and work then, the prophecy continues: “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; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them.”—Isaiah 65:21-23.
What a difference that new world of God’s design will make! Do you not want to live in such a world, one in which you “will not toil for nothing” but will enjoy to the full the “fruitage” of your labor? Note, though, who will enjoy such blessings: “They are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah.” You can be one of such “blessed ones” by learning about Jehovah and meeting his requirements. Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Jehovah’s Witnesses would be glad to help you gain that life-giving knowledge by a systematic study of God’s Word, the Bible.
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“IN CONSTANT DEMAND”
“Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men,” says the Bible. (Colossians 3:23) Obviously, one whose work ethic is governed by this fine principle would be a sought-after employee. For that reason, J. J. Luna, in his book How to Be Invisible, advises potential employers to search out active members of certain religious groups, but he adds: “In actual practice we usually end up with [Jehovah’s] Witnesses.” Among the reasons he gives is that they are well-known for their honesty, and that puts them “in constant demand” in various fields.
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Balancing work with spiritual activities and recreation brings satisfaction