A New View of Work: The Effect of the Fall

Ten years ago I thought about quitting my job as a trial lawyer because I thought I didn’t like my job.

As a trial would approach, I would begin thinking of everything that had to be done procedurally in addition to mastering all the facts and law of the case. The task usually seemed overwhelming, and I worried about whether I could get it all done.

Then there was the anxiety of standing up in front of a judge, jury and my client, as well as the fear of losing. The tension would build as the trial approached, and I usually had difficulty sleeping.

Curiously, once I got into the trial and was in the moment when there was no time to worry, only act, I loved it. When the trial was over, I felt I couldn’t wait until the next trial to get back into the courtroom. Then when the next trial showed up on the radar, the same cycle of anxiety began again. It took me a while to realize that what I hated about my job was not my job but all the anxiety I attached to it.

I think my experience is not uncommon. For some the problem may be the insecurity of not knowing where they stand with their boss or the fear or being terminated. For many the source of anxiety is interpersonal problems with coworkers or subordinates, or a boss who gives unrealistic goals, or inhibits your ability to achieve them.

But I think with most people, if you could strip all the extraneous stuff away they would say they like the actual work itself. It’s all the extraneous stuff that creates anxiety and frustration that causes them to dislike work and to sweat and toil at their jobs.

Now if you think about it, all the extraneous stuff I just mentioned that makes us hate our jobs is a result of the Fall of Man. Interpersonal problems, hostile work environments, insecurity, fear and anxiety are all a result of our separation from God, ourselves, others and nature that resulted from the Fall.

When the Fall of Man occurred, God’s purpose for man to work did not change, but the Lord warned Adam that there would be something new attached to his work:

“Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.

Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field;

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground…”

(Gen. 3:17-19) (emphasis added).

It’s not that the nature of work changed, though it became more difficult and less productive, but the way man approached work that is noted in the text, through toiling and sweating.

Part of being a citizen of the kingdom of God and being reconciled to God, self and others is learning how, in Christ, to eliminate all the sin-induced crap that causes us to sweat and toil at our jobs. But that is for a another post. The point here is that the nature of man is to work.

So, don’t mistake your dislike for your job as a indication you were not created to work. GS.

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