The Dignity of Work

dignity 2Proverbs 12:24 “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.”

We complain about it. We resist it. We blame it on the Fall—even though Adam and Eve relished in it before they tried to expand their resume to include being like God. Work.

God created us in his likeness and a part of his likeness consists of work. Whether we realize it or not, work provides us with a sense of dignity. We were made to accomplish, and to feel good about our accomplishments. The sense of a “job well done” can occur in great achievements or in the most menial of tasks. It all depends on our perspective.

My husband and I recently spent Saturday morning volunteering at a homeless shelter. Our job assignment consisted of washing the windows.  I was into it. I wanted to make every smear and smudge disappear. No streaks on my watch! Since no one there even knew me, my reputation was not at stake. So why the inward push to give it all I had?

I believe God made me—and all of us—to savor our work. Intrinsically we sense work reflects something greater than a paycheck. It has nothing to do with position or status. How much money we make. How other people view our job. When we approach our work with a sense of respect, the result of our labor creates both satisfaction and purpose. It helps shape us into who God wants us to be.

As the Protestant work ethic declines in our society, the dignity of man suffers. Stagnant unemployment has stolen not only jobs but motivation. We’ve shifted from a mindset of work then play, to play then work, and finally to play, play, play. As one writer has suggested, our culture is “amusing itself to death.”

Consequently, our sense of well-being as individuals and as a country is eroding. As salt and light to the culture, we can reclaim the dignity found in work. Jesus brought glory to God by completing his labor (John 17:4). So can we. Let’s not underestimate the light that shines from those who do their work, and do it well. Without complaint.

As God’s “workmanship” you can bring him glory through your work. So in whatever kind of task or assignment you’ve been given…let those diligent hands rule!

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