Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes. Haggai 1:6 (NLT)
The Genesis account of Adam and Eve resulted in the direction by God that man should eat food produced by the “sweat of his brow”. Put another way, one result of their disobedience is that we have been “condemned” to work. OK, I can live with that. We have to learn self-sufficiency.
I worked my entire adult life. Sometimes too much, and I admit that there were times when I was a workaholic. Those were in my “BC” days when I didn’t know that one of my main responsibilities was to be the spiritual leader of my family.
I was mistaken that my only role was to be the breadwinner, and so working long hours seemed to be a virtue in my distorted sense of world order. When I became a Christian, someone told me something I shall never forget. They said “they never knew anyone on their death bed who said ‘I wish I had worked more’.” Ouch!
Fast forward to today where life in America has gotten more complicated. In the Atlantic, Judith Shulevitz wrote an article titled “Why You Never See your Friends Anymore.” Her premise is that our current work culture has caused havoc on how we work, rest and socialize.
Her article traces the dislocation back to Stalin and Russia. Stalin wanted to undermine the family. In 1929, he changed the traditional workweek and eliminated Saturday and Sunday as days off.
Instead, each worker was assigned a color (orange, purple, etc.). which signified what day off they would have. Husbands and wives often had different days off which was deemed fine because it disrupted families.
It was intended to provide a continuous workweek, or nepreryvka. This attempt at social engineering backfired, but the traditional workweek did not return until 1940.
Studies now show that almost a third of the American workforce are enduring similar and unpredictable work schedules. Shulevitz says that this free time dislocation might end up being an American nepreryvka.
Employers are demanding what is called “schedule flexibility” where the 9 to 5 workday is in the rearview mirror, and your hours as an employee may be dictated more by market needs (i.e. busy times) than your needs.
White-collar employees are not exempt. Technology has made professionals and managers constantly “on-call”. In a study, over 90% worked more than 50 hours a week, and a third worked more than 65 hours per week according to a Harvard Business School study.
As a result, a Harvard economist summarized the issue this way: “Professions devote the majority of the waking hours to their careers.” The result is predictable – it leads to the breakdown of family and social ties. I can relate to this, as I noted above. I bought into it, too.
A recent Pew research report on anxiety of the next generation showed that 95% of teens said that “having a career they enjoy” would be extremely important as an adult. Their aspirations for work ranked higher than any other priority including marriage (47%) and “helping other people in need” (81%).
Political philosophers have long said that if you want to create conditions for tyranny, all you need to do is destroy the “bonds of intimate relationships and local community.” Chasing the false god of workism is a potential tool in the toolkit.
Workism, it turns out, is a big deal. It is a kind of religion rooted in atheism which puts forth the concept that “work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity.”
According to Derek Thompson in the Atlantic, workism is the “belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.”
Sound familiar? Well, I touched on this latter thought in my post on History where I noted that the revisionist history was created with an aim to minimize parental control. If you damage the family through a work ethic that destroys time off, all the better.
These trends are troubling, to say the least. This “new” religion was conceived over 100 years ago and is now taking root in the next generation. It fails spiritually and destroys community by undermining the nature of social and family life. We need to bow to a different altar by bringing balance back into our lives.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Your mentee is not exempt from this pull from peers to make workism a false religion. You have an opportunity to teach biblical values of a balanced lifestyle.
FURTHER READING: Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore Judith Shulevitz
Workism is Making Americans Miserable Derek Thompson
WORSHIP: Listen to Kari Jobe remind us that I Am Not Alone
MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.
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