Work like a Horse or Work like a Steward
We live in a ferociously competitive, globalized world. It is the best of times and the worst of times. Why worst? There is a tremendous stress on the individual as there is no longer any job security. He cannot expect to be in the same organization for life. Even when he is very good in his work he can be out of job due to external circumstances. In fact, during his life time, he would be out of work several times due to outsourcing, downsizing, merger, plant shut-down, takeover, bankruptcy, restructuring, etc.
It is a very harsh and tough world. So every individual has to change his mindset. He has to see his job in the organisation as an assignment that will last for only two to five years, if he is lucky. What then can he do in this globalised world? He has to constantly learn relevant knowledge and skills to stay employable. There is no other alternative. The earlier he learns this, the more prepared he will be to face the challenges ahead.
Why best? There are many more interesting jobs and greater freedom for people to move across national borders.
We will be forced to work like a horse: when we are overcommitted; when we have too heavy mortgages to pay; when we spend beyond our means often; when we work with too much fear over our job security. However, can we travel lighter by making sure that we do not over-commit ourselves for too long a period? Since we cannot be assured of jobs, can we make sure that we do not extend our house mortgages to beyond 15-20 years? Can we ensure that we have the ability to pay back our credit cards debts? Do we have self-control over money matters?
On the other hand we have people who work like a steward. A very good example of such a person is Mother Teresa. She works without fear. She works with one heart full of love. She is not concerned with what she possesses. She is rich beyond the yardstick used by our material world to measure. In fact, the saying, “A rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least,” can truly be applied to her.
Yes, we do not want to work with too much fear neither can we work like Mother Teresa. We are all individuals. We have our own individual needs. We have our own crosses to carry. We have our own individual problems and circumstances.
Can we adopt a mindset between these two ways, one full of fear and anxiety and the other full of love? Maybe we need a change in our mindset:
(1) No matter how tough and demanding the work is, we have to learn to work with joy and cheerfulness. How? Don’t murmur and grumble. Do it willingly and gladly. This will make the task a pleasure to be enjoyed and not a pressure to be endured.
(2) Prayer is important. Instead of working by our own effort and claiming the credit solely for ourselves, we need to learn to pray the work. What does this praying the work mean? It means doing the work together with God and with God’s help and for God. What we do is firstly to get as many diverse views about the work problem as possible, then pray and listen to God. On important decisions we ask, “Am I making this decision for my ego, prestige and self interest or am I making it for God?” It also means that we acknowledge that God gives us our talent and whatever hard work and effort we put into the work, we give God the credit. We are convinced that without His help we could not have done it so well.
(3) Work with a passion. Virtually all of us work for a living but few of us work for a life. To work for a life, we will willingly put in the extra effort and will burn the midnight oil. To work for a life also means that we make and give time to our God, family and friends. For they give meaning to our lives and they are the ones who will sustain and comfort us in our pain and adversity. With passion in our work we will make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. We do what we do gladly. We love what we do. And unless we love what we do, all our great effort will be useless.
(4) We will do any honest work that provides us with an income. We will not be choosy when we are out of job. We will not be ashamed to do even the most menial work. We can and will hold our head high.
(5) We will not compete with others. What? Not to compete in today’s working environment? Must be crazy! Yes, individually, we should not compete with others but we must always compete with ourselves. When we compete with ourselves we are constantly improving. Today I am better than yesterday. Tomorrow I will be better than today. In our life time we are constantly improving and this will make us employable. Our employability depends on us constantly learning new skills.
However, first things first, we must know our basic soft skills. We must know how to manage ourselves and others effectively and efficiently. We must internalize these basic soft skills in order that we can apply them instantly when the situation arises. These basic soft skills have been systemized and summarized in my book “Project Management Secrets of the Caesars Second Edition.” It can be downloaded free from my web site www.jameslau88.com
But, more important than the basic soft skills, is a change in our mindset and a re-evaluation of our priorities. Can we adapt and modify for ourselves (in order to equip ourselves better and to suit our own individual needs) the sayings of Mother Teresa and the sayings in the New Testament on work?
I. Sayings of Mother Teresa on work
“When you are cooking, washing clothes, working hard in the office, do all with joy. That will be your love for God in action!” (A Life for God, 205)
“We must work in great faith, steadily, efficiently, and above all with great love and cheerfulness, for without this our work will be only the work of slaves, serving a hard master.” (A Life for God, 205)
“If you are really in love with Christ, no matter how small the work, it will be done better, it will be wholehearted. If your work is slapdash, then your love for God is slapdash. Your work must prove your love.” (A Life for God, 205)
“If you are put in the kitchen, you must not think it does not require brains—----that sitting, standing, coming, going, anything will do. God will not ask that sister how many books she has read; how many miracles she has worked; but he will ask her if she has done her best for the love of him. Can she in all sincerity say, ‘I have done my best?’ Even if the best is failure, it must be our best, our utmost.” (A Life for God, 207)
“You may be exhausted with work—--you may even kill yourself but unless your work is interwoven with love, it is useless.” (A Life for God, 206)
“To work without love is slavery.” (A Life for God, 204)
“There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. It is a danger if we forget to whom we are doing it. This is where the respect and love and devotion come in, that we give it and do it to God, to Christ and that is why we do it as beautifully as possible. The beautiful experience that we have by serving, we must pass on to people who have not had it. It is one of the great rewards of our work.” (The Joy in Loving, 4 April)
“Our vocation is not the work---the fidelity to humble works is our means to put our love into action.” (A Life for God, 205)
“Our vocation is nothing else but to belong to Christ. The work that we do is only a means to put our love for Christ into living action.” (A Life for God, 196)
“Never do the work carelessly because you wish to hide your gifts. Remember, the work is his. You are his co—worker. Therefore, he depends on you for that special work. Do the work with him, and the work will be done for him. The talents God has given you are not yours———they have been given to you for your use, for the glory of God. There can be no half measures in the work. You may feel very bad, but feelings are not the measure of our love for Christ. It is our will and our work that matters. Be great and use everything in you for the good Master.” (A Life for God, 206)
“You have done a lot of work these days; it was nicely done, but did you give what was inside of you?
What did that giving mean to you? Did you give with love and respect? If you did not pray that giving, it was just a giving of self.
Did the people see you give with love and respect? Did you give the medicine with faith to the sick Christ? This is the difference between you and the social worker.” (A Life for God, 206)
“Today, in the words of our Holy Father, each one of us must be able “to cleanse what is dirty, to warm what is lukewarm, to strengthen what is weak, to enlighten what is dark.” We must not be afraid to proclaim Christ’s love and to love as he loved. In the work we have to do, no matter how small and humble it may be, we must make it Christ’s love in action.” (A Life for God, 207)
“The more repugnant the work, the greater the effect of love and cheerful service. If I had not first picked up that woman who was eaten by rats———her face, and legs, and so on—--—I could not have been a Missionary of Charity. But I returned, picked her up, and took her to Camphel Hospital. If I had not, the Society would have died. Feelings of repugnance are human. If we give our wholehearted, free service in spite of such feelings, we will become holy. St. Francis of Assisi was repulsed by lepers but he overcame it. He died; but Christ lives.” (A Life for God, 206)
“We need prayers in order to better carry out the work of God. Pray for us, so that the work we do may be God’s work and so that in every moment we may know how to be completely available to him.” (A Life for God, 207)
“How is it possible to change one’s work into a prayer? Work cannot substitute for prayer. Nevertheless, we can learn to make work a prayer. How can we do this? By doing our work with Jesus and for Jesus. That is the way to make our work a prayer. It is possible that I may not be able to keep my attention fully on God while I work, but God doesn’t demand that I do so. Yet I can fully desire and intend that my work be done with Jesus and for Jesus. This is beautiful and that is what God wants. He wants our will and our desire to be for him, for our family, for our children, for our brethren, and for the poor.” (One Heart Full of Love, 58)
II. Some quotes from the New Testament about work.
1. “Do all your work in love.” (l Corinthians 16:14 TEV)
2. “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” (Colossians 3:23 TEV)
3. “Whoever refuses to work is not allowed to eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:l0 TEV)
4. “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless.” (l Corinthians 15:58 TEV)
5. “Work hard and do not be lazy” (Romans 12:11 TEV)
6. In the parable of the Talents, we are asked not to be lazy and hide our talents but to work hard and multiply our talents. The message is, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:29 NKJB)
7. Earning a living is essential but, “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have.” (Hebrew 13:5 TEV)
8. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJB).
9. No one can serve both God and money, as Jesus says “You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 TEV)
10. “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are.” (Matthew 6:19-21 TEV)
11. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (Mark 8:36 NKJV) Yes, an individual needs to ask himself, "What is my real returns if I have to invest so much time to gain money, fame or power but have little time left to spend with my loved ones?"
12. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)