The Diminishment of Work
If Henry Ford exalted work to a place it was not meant to have, today, there are many people who diminish work to a place where it loses it dignity and meaning.

I think it is easiest if I provide a number of quotes that illustrate this contemporary mindset.

How about this one. If I can't have FUN WHILE I WORK, then it is not worth doing! 
Hey, it is great if we can have fun at work. I often do and I am grateful for those times when I do deeply enjoy my work. But not all work is fun, nor easy. Many times it is difficult, there is some drudgery and routine. There are challenges and even crisis that takes place in one's work. There are deadlines that are demanding. Sometimes, the other adage, "When the going get tough, the tough get going" applies to work. When the work gets tough, those who value work, don't quit, they keep going.


The Weekends (When I Don't Work) Are What Life is All About
This is the Thank-God-Its-Friday mindset. Work becomes a necessary evil so i can enjoy my time off the way I want. Work is the interruption to my weekends, where I really live. Work is not enjoyable, nor desirable. I have to find ways to endure.

This is probably the mindset of "life is a party." There is a good dose of HEDONISM here. Pleasure is the meaning of life and the pursuit of pleasure my goal. 

In the biblical worldview, rest was created as a necessary rhythm for good work. In HEDONISM, the only good is to live it up. 


The Cynical View of Work
I have to admit, over the decades, I have loved Dilbert. 

Because Dilbert does poke fun at so much of the banality we experience in the workplace. Dilbert is willing to put on display, the foolishness, the ridiculousness, the meaninglessness and in fact - the stupidity so many people experience in the workplace.

Dilbert is good to remind us of the problems in the workplace, and to help us laugh at these problems. Really, Dilbert helps us laugh at ourselves, for the main characters are "types" of people we find everywhere. Laughter is much better then despair. But, at the same time, there is a cynicism that doesn't provide any forward movement.

Every new leadership and business initiative is ridiculed as another waste of time. And ultimately, the purpose of work seems to be to "get one over on the man." Do nothing and still get paid!


Work as Evil!
Finally, we have the ultimately wrong perspective on work. Was Twain joking? Probably! He was the master of the witty one liner. 

What Twain does help us understand is what sin has done to work. Sin has introduced into work, an element of futility. Sin has not RUINED work, it has just DAMAGED it.

Work is harder then it should be.
Work is not as productive as it was meant to be.
Work is not as enjoyable as it could be.
Work is not as meaningful and fulfilling as we need it to be.


Well, the answer is not to avoid work, or to dismiss it, or trivialize it, or reduce it to the 5 days inbetween the weekends when we really live. The answer is to redeem work by learning how to have good work.

A little guidance on that subject tomorrow.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International