Sunday, May 15, 2016

Are You Working Too Little?

There is a huge temptation to work too much and make work one's idol.  This is true. But on the other hand many of us are tempted to work too little and to be lazy. This is a great problem in society.  With all of the welfare programs and the failure of society to emphasize personal responsibility we have created an entire class of lazy citizens who rely on welfare.

This doesn't mean that everyone on welfare is lazy! That is not the point. But there are certainly a sub-set of welfare recipients who have become lazy and feel no motivation to work.

Many people I know are tempted to be lazy but not that lazy.  There is a temptation to coast and to merely do enough to get by. This can come from a fundamental misunderstanding of one's motivation to work. Many have the welfare mentality but are just too embarrassed to go on it or have found a way to get paid enough while still being lazy to avoid it.

Here are a couple things that can motivate you to be lazy:

Trying to Look Good Only When the Boss is Present

When we are only interested in looking good when our supervisor is around, in meetings, or when giving a presentation we are being men pleasers only. This is lazy! We aren't really trying to do a good job for the sake of the work.  If we are only working hard when the boss is around we aren't even doing the best thing for the boss. He is only getting good work when he is around. I don't know any employers who only want you to do work if they are standing right next to you. The expectation is to do good work at all times. When we are motivated by looking good only we are easily tempted to be lazy.

Trying to Get Rich Quick

This is a bad one.  This can motivate you to work too much in a frenzy and then to simply shut down. Once the excitement of getting the new job or the raise wears off there is suddenly the realization that there is a large amount of work ahead and that the quick payoff hoped for will not be coming or was not as large as expected.  This can result in a very dramatic drop in motivation and performance. The fundamental problem with this motivation is that at its root it is motivated by laziness. The desire is to work hard for a very short time to ensure that one won't have to work hard for the rest of their life. This is unhealthy. It is one thing to want to obtain financial independence or pay off debt. But it is quite another to be motivated by the desire to not work at all.

General Apathy

When you consider work as a necessary evil or only as a means to pay one's rent etc. then there is a temptation to work too little. The God-given desire to create, organize, manage, and direct are all stifled. A general apathy sets in because the desire is to only do as much work as needed to provide for food and rent.

We were created for much more than working just to pay rent.

The Wounded Pride or Life Isn't Fair Attitude

Frequently things that are unfair will happen in the workplace. This could take the form of being made the scapegoat for a particular negative incident or getting overlooked for a promotion. These things happen all the time and are a normal part of work life. But unfortunately it is tempting to become bitter about these incidents and form an alternate reality.  In the alternate reality, it is acceptable to not do one's best and to be lazy because of the unfair treatment. This kind of thinking will only increase the level of negativity and laziness in the workplace because it is rare that you will ever get an apology. This can spiral downward into such poor performance that an otherwise good and talented employee will so refuse to apply themselves that they must be terminated. So many things in life have to do with having a good attitude. Don't let your negative attitude kill your motivation to work.

If you have experienced something unfair you should confront the situation head-on. This helps everyone and will still allow you to continue to do your best work in the meantime in the hopes that the situation will be resolved!

Proper Motivation

The proper motivation to work is to work for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. This is part of our "reasonable service" that we lay down our lives as a living sacrifice to him. For many of us, we have not yet been called to literally lay down our lives as many Christians in ancient Rome did and as many missionaries over the years have done.  Rather, we are to figuratively lay down our lives through acts of obedience to our God and generally through killing our selfish and sinful fleshly desires. The flesh is lazy and indolent naturally. Unless it is finding an idolatrous pleasure in worshipping at the alter of corporate success, in which case it is energized by the sinful lusts of the heart, the allure of the world, and the prompting of Satan and his host.

However, we Christians must work not just to look good when the boss is around but to please God - especially since HE is always around.

We can link our work motivation to the teaching of Jesus regarding the summary of the law: to love God with all one's heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.

We must do our best work because we love God with all of our heart. We know that He made us and has commanded us to work. We work not just to subsist but to honor God with whatever talents and skills he has given us. We are his instruments to plan, organize, and creatively direct all that occurs on the earth. This is exciting. Many of us are involved in feeding our neighbors, building roads, moving resources, planning activities of the government etc.  These responsibilities have been given to us as stewards for this epoch of time and in the place that God has placed us.

But we must also do our best work because we love our neighbors. This precludes idolatry on one hand and indolence on the other! Idolatry because in loving ourselves and our own material possessions we will lose sight of the worth of our neighbor and hate them as competitors. Nor can we be lazy because when we are lazy we are making it harder for our neighbors to live and generally stealing resources from others who are more industrious. We are also stealing from our employers and the owners of the organization that employs us. "Stealing" is a strong word but in many cases time and wage theft is a very real thing.

We can pray every day that God will help us love Him and our neighbor through our work. It is very difficult to maintain our motivation to work day in and day out. But is it not a race? Is it not a war? Doesn't the athlete discipline himself to win a crown and doesn't a soldier keep from entangling himself with the things of the world? 

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