False Stories of Work: Focus on Leisure

Reprinted from the Salt & Light Australia Daily Devotional.

Part one of a series.

Over the next seven devotions, I want to deal with some false stories about work we might hear about, or even unconsciously absorb; and the better story for work that we read in the Bible or is commended through the Gospel.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
    So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:26-28

1. My focus is on my leisure time, not work

I think this is the Australian spirit.

We care more about our weekends that our weekdays.

As Loverboy sang in the 80s, “We’re all working for the weekend”; and as the popular saying goes… “Thank God it’s Friday”. Whereas “It’s another manic Monday”, or “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”

The Australian dream is to work as hard as you can for as short as you can, and then…life begins.

I had a friend who was going to his financial planner who kept saying things like, “Another couple of years and you could easily retire quite comfortably.” And my friend would say, “That’s fine but I love working.” And the next time the planner said, “You should be able to retire really soon.” And my friend would say, “I’m not going to retire, I want to keep working!” And my friend said his planner just could not understand that anyone would not want to retire as soon as they could afford to!

However, focusing on leisure rather than work is a false story, because in fact, we are made to work, not rest all the time. It is intrinsic to who we are as human beings, and this is being increasingly backed up by science. It is unhealthy to not work.

The reading from Genesis tells a better story for our work. At this point in the story, God has just finished his magnificent work of creation: the heavens and the earth, the sea and the sky, and the land mass full of vegetation and animals.

Then God created us, human beings. We are created in his image, in the image of one who works. So, work truly is intrinsic to who we are: we are made to work.

Later in the story we find there is a place for rest, and leisure activities, and God certainly has a playful spirit. However, our primary purpose is to work, not rest.

Think It Through

  • How much do you see this false story lived out around you? Do you sometimes live out that false story in your own life?
  • What difference does it make knowing that you were made for work?

Dear God,
It is easy for us to join in the chorus criticizing work and prioritizing leisure.
Forgive us when we fail to see the importance of work.
Forgive us when we would rather participate in leisure rather than work.
Free us from the story that encourages us to prioritize early retirement with a focus on leisure rather than working with and for you.
Help us to be encouraged and inspired that we are made in your image, the one who works.
Help us to see your vision for our daily work.

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Kara Martin is the author of Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God, and Workship 2: How to Flourish at Work. She is also a lecturer with Mary Andrews College. Kara has worked in media and communications, human resources, business analysis and policy development roles, in a variety of organizations, and as a consultant. Kara has a particular passion for integrating our Christian faith and work, and helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations. She is currently conducting research on how to effectively equip workplace Christians to integrate their faith and work.

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