It’s been several weeks since we last posted—in fact, this was probably the longest dry spell for new posts since we launched this blog over a year ago! The baby certainly has given us some additional distractions that take up our time, but our lack of writing lately actually has more to do with my responsibilities at work than with the baby. I’ve been preoccupied with work duties each weekend for the past 3 weeks, and since that’s when I do most of my blog writing, thus the dry spell.
I say all of this not to make excuses or to garner sympathy, but because I think this is an excellent time to share a few thoughts on work. We talk a lot about saving money around here, but as we all know, the only way for most of us to have any money to save in the first place means WORK!
Work is Good
I think that work has been given a bad name lately. See if you recognize any of these sentiments:
- Ugh, I can’t believe it’s Monday already, I don’t want to go back to work!
- I hate my job, but how else am I going to pay the bills?
- I can’t wait for the weekend.
- I can’t wait for vacation.
- I can’t wait for retirement.
- I deserve to be paid more for what I do!
- My boss drives me crazy! I can’t stand working for him!
- If I had the money, I’d never work again and just travel the world.
Complaining about work these days is about as normal as students complaining about homework. But what do we spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week doing week in and week out? Work! It often seems like the last thing we want to do, but yet is what we spend most of our waking hours doing. Something’s not right here!
Maybe we need to ignore the narrative about work that we hear around us, and remember that one of the first things that God gave Adam to do after creating him was, you guessed it, WORK. Maybe if we start by dumping the anti-work sentiments and replacing them with the conviction that work is a GOOD thing, we can start making that 40-hour stretch each week a more pleasant thing.
I have a feeling that Joseph in the Bible couldn’t have worked as diligently as he did as a slave and later as a prisoner if he had the modern-day disdain of work.
Work for Food
The Apostle Paul has a pithy statement that one of my work supervisors in high school loved to repeat to us: “If any would not work, neither should he eat.” [2 Thess. 3:10] Ask any energetic pubescent boy, and he will make very clear to you the importance of food! Our supervisor made his point!
Honestly though, this reality doesn’t change too much even as we grow up, does it? Sitting around waiting for handouts isn’t going to fill empty bellies, and if we expect to have any crumbs to save, we’re going to have to work. Moreover, the true value of the crumbs we endeavor to save doesn’t become apparent until we’ve had to exert effort through hard work to obtain them in the first place.
Speaking from personal experience in high school, $10 earned through an hour of loading bricks feels like much more than $10 received as a birthday gift. It’s a whole lot harder to blow ten bucks on frivolity when there are ten sore fingers to remind me what it took to earn them!
Work for Free
Having said all of this, I understand that there are indeed unpleasant work circumstances that cause even the most positive crumb saver to lose heart or get discouraged. The beauty of it is that more often than not, we get to choose our work. If we don’t like our job, maybe it’s time we consider finding a new one!
I sincerely believe that work needs to be for a higher purpose, not simply for a higher paycheck. Money is necessary for keeping the lights on and putting food on the table, but I don’t think it should be the primary motivator for selecting a job. In my own experience in the workforce, I’ve quickly learned that the best jobs I’ve ever had were always work that I’d want to do for free.
What if the job that makes us tap dance to work each day doesn’t pay very much? This dilemma is actually one of the reasons why Deb and I have chosen to live a life of such strict frugality. I love my job, but it doesn’t pay very much by market standards. We also believe strongly in Deb being a stay-at-home-mom to raise our kids. The only way we can make this work is by saving the crumbs in order to live life on a much smaller paycheck.
I manage my money so that I can do work that I love, rather than doing work I don’t love in order to manage having enough money.
Working and Financial Independence
Should I someday reach that threshold of financial independence where my investments generate enough money to pay for all of my living expenses (meaning I can pay all of my bills without a regular paycheck), I don’t intend to stop working! (Even once I hit “retirement age“.) Perhaps I really WILL work for free at that point. Because, you know, work is a GOOD thing!
What about you? Do you LOVE your job? How do you determine what you choose to do for work?