“Dad, why do we work?”
Charlene, our 18-year-old, didn’t ask that exact question, but she might have. Here’s our conversation:
Char: “Dad, come see online how much I made last week at Target! Whoo hoo! Sweet! That’s why I work!”
Me: “Um, well, not exactly, Honey.”
Char: “What do you mean? Yes it is … I work to get paid.”
Me: “That’s one reason we work, but it’s about fourth on the list.”
Char: “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Dad. Is there a speech coming?!?”
And from there The Wise Father (that’d be me) told her why people work.
1. To serve upwardly
Most people—again, I said “most”—tend to believe that we are each made. I sure do. I also believe we were not made so that we can feel entitled, be taken care of from cradle to grave, or lay on the couch watching TV not contributing to this world. Only when we work do we create, and only when we create—build stuff, fix things, solve problems, imagine, invent, and implement—do we honor the One who made us. To do anything less just isn’t right. Anyone disagree?
2. To serve outwardly
Whether it’s Charlene at Target assisting a grandmother in finding just the right toy for her grandson, a doctor or nurse helping a patient to heal, or a highway worker fixing that bad pothole so you and I can have a smooth ride, each is engaging in an “act of service.” And when we serve others by helping them reach their goals and adding value to their life, we’re using our mind and body in a meaningful way. Only by working can we do all that.
3. To serve inwardly
It’s when I work that I avoid boredom, discover my purpose, and gain recognition from others. (And, honestly, who doesn’t like a little praise now and then?)
In other words, when I work, I add value to my life—and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I often ask audiences, “When I play victim, feeling the world owes me, who am I serving?” Then, before anyone can respond, I warn them, “Be careful with your answer!” I add that because if I don’t, someone will say, “Me!”
When I play victim, there’s no way I am sharpening my skills, acquiring new capabilities, honing my talents, and experiencing those wonderful intangibles that make life good.
It’s true …
There’s no fun, joy, or satisfaction in playing victim.
Plus, it’s hard to “take pride in our work” when we haven’t done any!
So, in summary, I shared with Charlene that we work to serve our Creator, people, and ourselves. But lest Miller Child #5 think Dad crazy, I added this:
“And it’s great to get paid, too.”
Yes, it surely is. It’s just not one of the first three reasons we work.
Discussion and Application:
So, why do you work? Do you want to change the reason you’re working? What are other reasons we work? Comment away … and don’t miss our give-away below!
If you liked this piece, you’ll enjoy: Personal Accountability: Doing My Job