Time to work: teaching a biblical view of work without dependence

Posted on March 27, 2014 by VMMissions Staff

Last spring we had one of the worst elders meeting we have ever seen. The young men Carl discipled were sullen and quiet until the meeting’s end when they bubbled over in sudden anger towards the elders: “When have you so much as lifted a finger for our future? You just talk, and the believing community will die out if you don’t establish a provision for our employment.”

In this culture, youth often look to their elders to provide employment and in Christian circles, this generally means working for a Western charity.

Needless to say, we were embarrassed at their behavior and after a sleepless night of prayer, the youth group boys apologized to the elders. But of course, their unemployment didn’t change. Now as affluent Westerners, we could connect them each up with a foreign-funded job if we wanted to, but since it sets an unsustainable pattern for the future we’ve chosen not to. What we can do is instill in them a biblical view of work, which is radically different than the standard mentality.

Each phrase of these verses contradicts society’s views:
“He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28)

“Make it your ambition to…work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11,12)

A young man in the community takes images for a new multimedia business. Courtesy photo.

A young man in the community takes images for a new multimedia business. Courtesy photo.

Four months ago these same youth found a creative business opportunity in multimedia, worked hard together for three weeks, and earned a good sum of money. They kept none of the money for themselves, but after giving ten percent to the church, they invested their entire profits back into this newly-formed company called “Transformation Multimedia.”

Over the past four months, through hard work, frugality and ingenuity, they have accumulated equipment & skills for a successful multimedia business.

Being in the multimedia industry myself, I’m delighted that they have chosen this line of work so I can coach and train them. Not only so, but how great to be part of forming a business which isn’t dependent on a Western connection for its profit source! Last week as I showed them how to keep accounts in Excel, my friend said, “Remember how we complained about not being handed employment? Now we’ve figured it out ourselves!”

Max Weber was right: a Biblical worldview uniquely fosters economic success. What’s the difference?

This society attributes a person’s success or failure directly to God’s predetermination; God is ambivalent. The gospel by contrast clearly shows a God who passionately, actively wants our good. It gives us a tremendous sense of hope which is necessary for business.

Often business initiatives get sidetracked with instant gratification — “I’ll spend my first profits on a new phone.” The gospel really hammers on learning delayed gratification­—investing our hope and faith in what is unseen now.

Adam worked in the perfect garden; work is not a curse or worldly distraction, it is something God designed us to find satisfaction and fulfillment in.

How is God’s perspective shaping the way you work?

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