Hard Labor (or Hard Labour for my SA friends)

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the concept of hard labor. I have always been a hard worker. I love the feeling of accomplishment from completing a project and I don’t shirk hard work. I think the hardest work I have ever done is being a Mom. My feet seem to ache at the end of everyday, because the only time I sit down is when I am driving somewhere. And yes, I wish so badly that this picture was a picture of my feet. My Mom actually bought me special shoes with support because she was so concerned about my feet 🙂 ~ thanks Mom! But the truth is, I just go all day with the kids. So labor is not a problem to me.

What has sparked my thoughts lately is the concept of not just working harder, but working more efficiently so you don’t have to work as hard or as long. I took a business management course in university and one of the random side comments that the teacher made that stuck with me was, “Only touch a piece of paper once.” In other words, if you pick something up, immediately address whatever is on that paper so you can throw it away or file it. For me, it is a great concept that is very difficult to do. I think that so much of my time is spent in the misuse of my time so that I am constantly working and accomplishing very little. Now, with three kids under the age of 6 all running around behind you undoing everything you have just done, this is to be expected, but never the less… if I planned what I was doing and was more efficient, I would work less. (ex. If I put a cartoon on and gave the children snacks before I clean my house, I wouldn’t constantly be interrupted while I am cleaning my house 🙂 ).

It’s a simple concept, but when you take it and apply it to your work situation, it might just change your work experience. I think the goal of our employment should be working efficiently (with excellence), so that we don’t have to work as long. Now in America, there is next to no reward for this in a corporate setting. People who work long hours, and even weekends are heralded for their hard work and loyalty to the company. It doesn’t matter that they could have done the same quality of work in half the time if they were being efficient, it is all about appearances. However, it is those same people who sacrifice so much for appearances that they lose their families to their work, and burn out so quickly. And the sad truth is that many people that do work efficiently in the work place are just given more work.

If this is your situation, you have to begin to think beyond your current employment. This job situation holds nothing in its future but burnout, and more sacrifice. You have to get it out of your head that the only way to make money is to work hard. It is not about just working hard. It is working efficiently so you don’t have to work as long. Unless you are being paid overtime for every hour you spend, there is no prize for taking longer, except that you have less time to give to your family, and less time for you. Your job should not be your master. It is just the vehicle for the provision that God brings. Don’t sacrifice everything, only to be left with nothing.

There is a wonderful verse in the Proverbs (ch10, vs 22) that I want to share with you today: “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no [sorrow] with it.” In the original Hebrew the word [sorrow] should actually be translated “toil”, or “hard labor”. So the verse should actually read, “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no hard labor with it.” (Thanks Dad for the Hebrew!) What an amazing thought that the Lord wants to bring blessing that isn’t hard, and doesn’t require difficult labor. This goes against many of our traditions and ways of thinking. But I think it goes back to investment principles a little bit… you look for the avenue with the greatest return over a period of time, and then you are purposeful with your resources and invest there. You don’t have to spend long hard hours working in order to “get rich”. You just need to use your time as efficiently as possible into the best investment of your time that you can. And just trust that promise from the Proverbs. When the blessing of the Lord is on you, wealth doesn’t have to be as a result of hard labor, it doesn’t have to be a sacrifice, and it doesn’t have to cost you your whole life.