Theology of Work

The Importance of Free Will and Purposeful Work for Children

I enjoy reading quotes about a variety of topics. Good quotes are condensed truth delivered in a fashion that is as amusing as it is thought-provoking. But sometimes I read a quote, which at first sounds so wise, witty, or practical, and then after a few seconds I’m like, “What?!”

I recently read a quote credited to Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, a successful businessman, investor and philanthropist, and founder of the Virgin Group, which, by the way, controls more than 400 companies. I’m all for listening to what hard-working, successful people have to say.

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.

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Why Do People Work?

"[W]hile rest is important and needed, work is what allows us to be productive, creative and focused on serving others. Work can provide a great sense of fulfillment, because it’s what God made us to do, regardless of whether it’s paid or volunteer work." IFWE


From the Archives: The Blessing of Work

On September 5, 1882, thousands of workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. The event was sponsored by New York’s Central Labor Union. According to documents from the period, workers and families marched from City Hall to Union Square, then gathered in Reservoir Park for picknicking, music, and speeches.

Several individual states established official Labor Day holidays until Congress turned it into a Federal holiday in 1894. Curiously, one labor union of that era also passed a resolution setting aside the Sunday before Labor Day as “Labor Sunday” to focus on “the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement” (Dept. of Labor).

What follows considers, not “spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement,” but biblical aspects of work in general, mostly from Genesis 2:7-15.

5 truths to help us value the blessing of work

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Why Do Excellent Work?

I once heard a story—I don’t recall where—of a builder who was commissioned by his employer to build a house. The builder’s employer gave specific instructions regarding the quality of the house. He wanted it to be excellent, but the builder tried to save money and effort for himself by cutting corners. The builder knew that he could hide his below-par craftsmanship so that it wouldn’t be discovered until years later.

In the end, the house looked good, but the low quality of the building left much to be desired. When the house was completed, the employer who owned the house handed the keys to the builder, and explained that he wanted to give the house to the builder as a show of gratitude for many years of service. Of course, the builder instantly regretted his laziness and poor workmanship. Read more about Why Do Excellent Work?

“Calling” for Meaning in Our Work

By Dr. Jim Thrasher and The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College (Grove City, PA). Used by permission.

The first job I ever wanted was to be a “garbage man,” as that is what I called it at age five. I would run out to the curb each week when the garbage truck came. The garbage man would greet me with a big smile and say, “How are you, Jimmy?” It was exceedingly apparent that this man had a positive attitude while performing what most would call a smelly, repetitive, and mundane job. I sincerely believe that this man—who impacted my life and whom I will never forget—loved his job because he saw beyond the required tasks and faithfully served and cared for others. For him, it had little to do with the job itself. I wanted to be just like him because, as I look back now, I sensed his service, commitment, devotion and calling. Read more about “Calling” for Meaning in Our Work