Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might… – Ecclesiastes 9:10
Remember, the duller the ax, the harder the work. Use your head, the more brains, the less muscle – Ecclesiastes 10:10 (THE MESSAGE TRANSLATION)
Work was never meant to be a drudgery. The first thing given to man at creation was work. Tending and keeping the garden was the first assignment that God gave to Adam. Work preceded a spouse. Eve was created to enhance the work process. Work was not a consequence of the Fall. It was never a curse. Work was never designed to simply be for the purpose of paying bills. Adam had no bills to pay before he was given work. Work is the platform that enhances the dignity of man. It is the plank on which his value to humanity is assessed. You can be sacked from a job but nobody can sack you from work. Your work is your calling, your assignment from divinity to humanity.
You were created to be a value contributor, even as you benefit from value created by others. Work is the platform that enables you to partner with the Creator in the creative enterprise that keeps the world going. Through your work, you bring value to yourself, to your employer, to humanity, and by extension, to God. With work, you not only have a voice, you qualify to profit from creation by form of reward for value contributed.
Whatever makes a man a parasite on the rest of society is a disservice to his existence on earth. Stealing from others, defrauding people and other forms of criminality do not confer dignity on anyone and never give sustainable success.
If work is so vital to successful living, it should logically follow that whatever one finds doing that enables him to serve the rest of creation should be something to be proud of, no matter how menial it appears. When people tell me that they don’t like what they are doing, I waste no time in letting them know that the work is not the problem. The reason for the lackluster sentiments expressed is wrong focus. There is no platform too innocuous to make a difference if the purpose of work is the focus rather than the labour of it. So I simply counsel people to love what they have found and be grateful for the opportunity to make a difference until they find the kind of work that they love to do.
No matter what one feels called to do, the place of skills development cannot be over-emphasized. God does not condone laziness or complacency. Many prayers are simply misdirected and totally out of sync with the divine order. Every day I come across people who think that a job is a fait-accompli. For this reason, they never stretch themselves to improve on their skills. Meanwhile they are praying to God for favour and grace to get to the top. If your attitude to self-development and skills development is negative, no amount of prayers can make you function beyond what you know! God is not the author of confusion. I pray and I encourage others to. But there is no way that God will give me the grace, no matter how many years I pray for, to fly an airplane when I have never taken flying lessons. How many hours of prayer does the pilot of a light, propeller plane require before he can fly an Airbus 380 or a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for which he never took lessons? A student who goes into the examination hall with a “miracle” pen without studying will embrace failure with open arms!
In the words of a Yoruba proverb, there is no shortcut to the top of a palm tree. You must master the art of climbing. The wind only assists an athlete who has spent hours practicing. Acquiring new skills or developing existing ones would literally put your function on steroids or on auto-pilot. You work so seamlessly that it no longer feels like work. I once read a story about Henry Ford who had problems with a very important equipment in his factory. He brought in several engineers and none of them was able to fix the problem. Then he remembered a particular engineer that he had worked with before. He sent for him to come and take a look at the machine. The man got to the factory and requested that they crank the machine. As the machine came alive, he put his ears to various parts of the machine as if listening to a conversation. All of a sudden, he stopped at a point, brought out a hammer and tapped what appeared to be a loose part into place. Bingo! The sound of the machine as well as its function were restored to the way it was when it functioned perfectly. The whole process had lasted less than five minutes. He sent in a bill for one thousand dollars, a tidy sum of money at that time. Henry Ford was scandalized and wasted no time in telling this engineer his mind on how outrageous the bill was for a job of less than five minutes. The engineer explained, “Sorry I did not explain the contents of my bill. The tapping cost only one hundred dollars. The remaining nine hundred was for knowing where and what to tap!” Ford paid!
Skills development implies, ab initio, the discovery of your set of skills. Know what you are wired to do. Then acknowledge that there might be gaps in those skills and resolve to fill those gaps through a deliberate education and development process that naturally makes it easy for you to manifest excellence in the performance of your duty. It is foolish waiting for the employer to be the one who has to push or goad you by paying your way for a training or skill acquisition programme before you expend effort on your own destiny. If you think your life is not valuable enough for you to invest on the development and honing of your skills, why should anyone else attach any value to it? More often than not, knowledge and the right attitude are the things that make the difference between excellence and mediocrity. Excellence may be costly but it demonstrates notable and noticeable distinction while mediocrity, which is very convenient, is content with being average and ordinary. Excellence eventually gets to determine its own wages while the mediocre continues to wallow in life’s shallow waters always hoping that someone would throw him a lifeline!
Your work is the hustle that shifts the gear of your vehicle on the journey of destiny. It not only pays your bills, it is the platform on which you demonstrate your partnership with God to impact a generation. Slothfulness, complacency and mediocrity are the hallmarks of a life that has signed on for the parasitic existence. If you want a voice that makes you distinct from the noise-induced cacophony of your environment, polish your hustle!
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!