Monday, April 23, 2012

The Importance of Work

Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life

If we look at 21st century American culture is there any aspect of life more central than work? With our advances in technology it is possible for many of us to work from any location including home. The downside of this is that the boundaries that used to separate and define work as distinct from the rest of our life have all but vanished. Phone calls, email, and texts, follow us everywhere.

While some workplaces cling to the antiquated discouraging of workplace relationships, the folks at Gallup will tell you that most modern relationships on any level are work based and the response to the statement, "I have a best friend at work" is a key measure of productivity and successful management.

Even if we wanted to, we could not return to the romanticized 1950's with work neatly contained and separated from family and friends, and our social and spiritual life. We must live in the world we have, in the best way possible.

First we should recall the real purpose of work. In Laborem Exercens, the Holy Father wrote, " As a person he[the human person] works, he performs various actions belonging to the work process; independently of their objective content, these actions must all serve to realize his humanity, to fulfil the calling to be a person that is his by reason of his very humanity."

It is not simple black and white. Work in itself is a good. Work is more than just a way to earn money, in work we realize, make real and visible, our humanity. Work cannot be an end in itself it must be linked to three dimensions of human life: the dignity of the worker, the building up of the family, and of society.

We must, however, search for balance in our lives. Each day there must be those times when we make the choice to unplug, to disconnect from our work. We need to truly spend time with God, to truly spend time with our friends and family, to eat, to exercise, to sleep. The Book of Genesis speaks of us having dominion over the earth, perhaps we must focus more narrowly on reclaiming dominion over our own lives.