Comment by Harborough churches: Do you work to live, or live to work?

Every week, the Harborough churches write for the Harborough Mail. This week, it is the turn of Stuart Allen, Pastor of Christchurch Harborough

By Stuart Allen
Monday, 31st January 2022, 11:17 am
Stuart Allen, Pastor of Christchurch Harborough
Stuart Allen, Pastor of Christchurch Harborough

Viewpoint by Stuart Allen, Pastor of Christchurch Harborough

“Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers.” Such is the wisdom of Homer Simpson.

There is no doubt that get-rich-quick schemes still have their appeal. But for most of us, 2022 will bring no such pennies from heaven. Like the vast majority of people throughout history, we will have to put in the hard graft.

I wonder how you feel about your work - whether that is paid, voluntary, or housework? Do you work to live, or live to work?

There is no doubt that some people live to work. They thrive off busyness. They live and breathe their careers. They work all the hours God sends. But when work becomes the most important thing in our lives, things tend to go wrong. We end up neglecting our families, social life, or health. Ironically, our well-being may suffer to such an extent that it impacts the very thing we love most: our work.

Other people work to live. They get the job done so that they can relax with friends or family, and enjoy sports and leisure activities. For many it is the weekend that keeps them going. This is because many people don’t really enjoy their work. When I worked in recruitment consultancy, surveys regularly showed that around 70 per cent of people were dissatisfied with their current jobs.

In some cases, this can lead to working half-heartedly. My dad used to work overseas as an engineer. On one job they relied on a boat to take them to a nearby island. But the crew were always coming out with excuses. These included, “There’s too much sea”, and “The guy who ties knots isn’t here today”.

Surprisingly for many, the Bible offers very balanced wisdom on work. It says that to find satisfaction in our work is a gift from God. It advocates working steadily and diligently, following the example of the ant. It says that we should work not only to provide for ourselves, but to have something to share with those in need.

But it also warns us about the dangers of work. It warns us that putting anything other than God at the centre of our lives, including our work, will never fulfil us. Even more significantly, it warns us against thinking that we can earn acceptance or approval with God by the good things we do.

Why? Because nothing we do can ever pay the debt we owe God. That is why God came to earth in the person of his Son, Jesus. He came to pay our debt by dying on a cross. What is the work God wants from us? Jesus says it is to believe in him. God doesn’t want us to put our confidence in what we have done for him, but in what he has done for us.

Stuart Allen is Pastor of Christchurch Harborough which meets on Sunday afternoons at the Jubilee Hall in Bowden Lane.