“No one likes doing more than they absolutely must.”
As my fourteen-year-old son shared this sentiment with me my mind flashed back to when I was his age. As I engaged him, I couldn’t help but reminisce on what had changed my perspective. I began working full-time outside the home the week I turned sixteen. As the only son of a single-parent mother, I felt a great responsibility to help provide for the financial needs of her and my five sisters. Life dictated that I become a man early.
My first impression upon working forty-to-fifty hours per week was that I was going to die! I was so tired all the time. My muscles weren’t used to the physical strain, and my brain wasn’t used to waking up so early. One of the upsides of being homeschooled was being able to set my own schedule and work at my own pace. One of the downsides was that I hadn’t learned to be regimented. Being thrown into the deep end of the pool (metaphorically speaking) and told to swim was good for me, and my mother knew it. Continuing my education in the workplace was a way for me to add to the wonderful education I received at home.
What I hadn’t picked up in my schoolwork or church attendance was a scriptural understanding of work. At that young age, I hadn’t yet discovered that there was a biblical theology for, well, everything!
As my mind returned to my son who was sitting in front of me trying to give a defense for why he had done a half-hearted job on a chore, I realized that it was a combination of two forces that caused me to tell him, “I actually like doing more than I must.”
The first force for good in my life was simply the work itself. God created us to work so when we exert ourselves and press past the initial resistance, we usually find pleasure in it. It is part of our worship, fulfilling a major purpose for our existence. Isaac Newton’s principle of physics that, “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and objects at rest tend to stay at rest” is true of us humans as well. Getting moving is the most difficult aspect. As the old sneaker ad used to say, “Just do it!” Doing meaningful work and seeing progress being made spurs us on to do more.
As is the case with most of life, we can be led by either our emotions or our will. Being led by our will means we must engage our mind with what is true. The body says it’s tired, so the mind must tell the body that it should keep working. For that to happen, there must be a plumb line for what a “should” even looks like. In other words, we need a standard that tells us what is right and wrong regarding work and rest. What is healthy and what is obsessive? What is servanthood and what is self-seeking? Are we ultimately working for God or for ourselves? What is the purpose and meaning of work?
To be driven by the correct motivations, we must develop a biblical theology of work. The God who created work, blessed it, gave it to us as a gift, has also provided a blueprint in the Bible for how we should view and engage in work. Our goal, then, is to seek it out apply it effectively in our lives.
The great news is that the heavy lifting for such a study has been largely done for us! Scott LaPierre, in the pages of Work and Rest God’s Way, lays out the biblical guidelines for how we should think about labor, productivity, and rest. Having done much of the research on our behalf, we get the luxury of quickly and easily absorbing the concepts in a concise format.
As a father of ten, I am looking forward to incorporating these important truths into the training of my own children. Parenting involves both formal teaching and example. It’s a blessing to have a resource that can help them think correctly about work. Rather than seeing it as a curse and therefore something to be avoided (as much of even the Christian world does), they can begin to see it as a blessing if kept within its proper confines and restraints.
This is a great discipleship tool for families and churches that will help us think “Christianly” about our relationship to our vocational callings. It is my prayer that this book will lead a generation into, not only thinking correctly about this important issue, but also living in such a way that a watching world will “see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).