We spend more time at work than we do at any other singular thing during our waking hours. That means our work ought to bring a great deal of satisfaction and meaningfulness to our lives. Consider that your workplace is your pulpit for sharing with others the abundant life that God has given you.
Years ago Johnny Paycheck made a song famous, “Take This Job and Shove It.” Sadly enough that echoed the sentiments of a lot of folks who view their work that way. They dread Mondays. They look forward to Fridays. A better song would be, “Take This Job and Love It.”
I believe a much needed revival in America centers around our work ethic. Ten years ago James Robertson’s car broke down. Detroit was undergoing financial difficulties and made cutbacks in its bus service. James Robertson was a factory worker and his job was 11 ½ miles from his home. He walked 21 miles round trip, five days a week, then put in a full day’s work!
He was 56-years-old. His attendance at work was perfect! Now that is a work ethic. The Detroit Free Press told his story. People started contributing money to help him buy a car. His work ethic was rewarded by gifts of about $280,000. Hard work does pay off.
In April 2015, some friends wanted to help Derrell Alexander celebrate his 100th birthday. They had to wait until Sunday afternoon after church because on the actual day of his birthday he was still working at the car dealership where he has worked since 1949. He works six days a week. He refuses to take vacation time and he credits his 100 years of life to his work ethic and “the Man upstairs.”
Conversely some people don’t like to work. Maybe you read about AK Verma, a senior engineer at the Central Public Works Department in India. He went on leave from his government job in December 1990 and didn’t show up for work for 24 consecutive years. The reason he didn’t show up was that his bosses continually denied his request for more time off. The bureaucratic government did take 24 years of absenteeism before they issued the papers to fire him.
A Payless Shoe Store in Ferguson, Missouri was looted during the recent protests. The report of stolen goods was very interesting. Hundreds of pairs of shoes were stolen, but not a single pair of work boots was taken!
A renewed emphasis on work ethic is most important today because beginning in 2015, Millennials between the age of 18 and 34 now constitute more than a third of the American workforce. They are the largest generational cohort working today. There are 53.5 million Millennials, followed by 52.7 million Gen Xers, and 44.6 million Baby Boomers. The future of productivity, work ethic, and meaningfulness in our job is now in the hands of our young people.
The most effective way to approach work is to see it as a platform for utilizing God’s resources. The founder of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, was asked by a reporter about his order of priorities. He said, “I believe in God, my family and McDonald’s.” That is a good statement, but then he added, “When I get to the office, I reverse the order.”
The ultimate success of our work is not how much we produce or how much money we make, but how well we handle the gifts and resources God has given us. Real meaning in life comes when we see all of life as a means by which we express our commitment to God.