March 4, 2015
Somewhere in the muddle of modern life we have lost the understanding of work as calling.
Many people think work is a curse. They believe it results from the fall recorded in the book of Genesis. We have forgotten that the primary purpose of work isn’t to get money to buy things.
In the minds of many, pursuing a college education is the path to making money and getting a good job. This is proving not to be the case, nor was such utilitarianism the original motive behind university education.
The first man was given responsibility.
The first couple received a commission. This involved work, labor, creativity, and responsibility. We were not created to be idle. We were created to ourselves be creative. We were created to be productive. We were each given a set of personality tendencies, abilities awaiting development, and unique inclinations. These are meant for stewardship.
Creative productivity is necessary for human flourishing. Many political solutions stifle productivity and therefore go against the created order of humanity. Giving people incentive not to work is giving them ill-health.
God the Almighty works.
He has no need of anything. Where is His need for income? What resources does He lack? Yet, He works.
In popular thinking, although not technically so, the American Dream has retirement as a primary tenet. This idea has been encouraged certainly by the Social Security system established decades ago. An arbitrary retirement age was instituted. Over time this is became a sacrosanct idea in our thinking about life. Most probably see it as a right.
Yet, how is it good to cease productivity or creativity at any stage of life? Is this part of God’s design for us? The idea of retirement has never set well with me, and has never been a goal for my life. For many years our income would not allow that to be considered a possibility, but that was not the reason for my thinking. It is deeper than that. I have never had a desire to arrive at some arbitrarily set point in my life where I lay everything down, and go walk around on golf courses, or sit in a rocking chair, or just spend my days on my pleasure.
I admire those people who continue to be fruitful until their health absolutely forbids it. I admire those people such as Daniel the prophet, or Joshua’s sidekick Caleb, who persisted in their callings to the end of their lives. Moses and Joshua were also such men.
It is difficult for me to find biblical or even rational justification for retirement. A change in career? A change in focus? Certainly those are viable, but those are not the same as the general idea of retirement.
Frequently I used to see a bumper sticker like this, often on the back of some huge RV:
This may have been intended as a joke and not to express reality. However, it is a reprehensible idea, and one I thoroughly reject. While I may not have much to pass along to my posterity, it would be selfish and irresponsible for me to make sure I had nothing. (I realize there’s more to legacy and inheritance than cash.)
There is value, dignity, and calling involved in work. It is not meant to be a drudgery, or something to get through until Friday afternoon hits.
We need a bigger perspective. We need a comprehensive life view that sees work for the blessing it is meant to be.
What do you think? What purposes and goals do you see in your future?