Work is a four-letter word. I’ve never liked it. The only things I seem to like are immoral, illegal, or fattening, but their pay is lousy. Good pay takes real effort. A Calgary saint, now-in-glory, by the name of Henry Esau used to attend Crossroads Community Church. During downturn of the mid 80s he said many people were looking for a job, but not many were looking for work. Jobs with no work? Sign me up. Yet, I also remember my dad saying that during WW2, in the prisoner-of-war camps, he saw men going crazy from boredom. They said to their captors, “Give us some work to do.” Why is this four-letter word so unpopular and yet so necessary? We hate it, and love it at the same time!
We need to remember that before sin entered the world, God’s plan for us was to work for six days (not five), and then rest for one. Although there are many books on improving productivity, I wish more was written on the financial benefits of being more effective on the job. In the government’s desire to stimulate growth we would do well to research what the Bible—especially Proverbs—has to say about our work ethic. Here are three gems:
- The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5) Start by stopping! That’s right—stop. Schedule time to think. Thinking is work too. It pays to plan. First plan your work, and then work your plans. Don’t confuse activity with productivity. Patience and laziness look similar at first glance, but they are very different. For people addicted to action, planning looks like a waste of time. But the journey of a thousand miles doesn’t really begin with the first step; it starts with a good map. Read more.
- The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing but the soul of the diligent is made fat. (Proverbs 13:4) Some work; others don’t. The verse compares two lives: the sluggard and the diligent. Some are poor because they are lazy, but not all. The sluggard certainly wants to have, but gets nothing. He craves things, but is unwilling to work for them. Why? It’s plain and simple: Inaction. Skill, intelligence, resources, supplies, education, or any other type of advantage are not even mentioned. Laziness and diligence are opposite attitudes and lead to opposite results. Passion without action brings nothing. Read more.
- He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. (Proverbs 28:19) Even with great wealth at your fingertips, distractions can bring destruction. Beware of well-packaged but unprofitable business “get rich quick” opportunities. We are most susceptible to exciting new ventures when going through the monotonous periods in our work routine. Tilling is perhaps the dullest part of farming. Planting, watering, and harvesting are all more directly related to the visible benefits of farming a good crop. Watch over your business and your business will watch over you. Note that this verse is repeated for emphasis, almost verbatim: He who tills his land will have plenty of bread but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense. (Proverbs 12:11) Read more.
It’s hard work to find good work. Starting your own business can be extremely difficult, but also extremely rewarding. I remember the excellent advice I was given, “Don’t go into business; grow into business.” Start small. Be steady. Keep going. Focus on small, regular gains, and not on the big win. It takes time. Today’s entrepreneur faces strong headwinds with aggressive taxation and onerous regulations. Our culture has become more dependent on big “G” government rather than big “G” god. God invented work before government was even born and He loves to help hard workers, that is, those who ask for His help.
I remember my mom’s counsel at the kitchen table when I was complaining about some unpleasant chore. She reminded me of Jesus’ words, “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Jesus worked hard—harder than any of us ever will. Now here’s a question to ponder. Did Jesus take up his cross daily, or only at the end of his life when he was tortured and sacrificed on it? Think about it. Pagans don’t ask Jesus for help. Christians do it all the time. Profitable work starts with prayer. Check out: Can you ask God for anything?