Work is a way of life in which man should ‘find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God ‘a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself’ and should be done ‘for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.’
‘When paper is scarce we must – or we should – think whether what we have to say is worth saying before writing or printing it.’
‘There are only two sources of real wealth: the fruit of the earth and the labour of men.’
We shouldn’t think in terms of work as something to do to make money, but think of it in terms of the work done – and take the same attitude as the ‘work’ we do in our hobbies, during our spare time etc. ‘We should ask of an enterprise, not “will it pay?” but “is it good?”; of a man, not “what does he make?” but “what is his work worth?”; of goods, not “Can we induce people to buy them?” but “are they useful things well made?”; of employment not “how much a week?” but “will it exercise my faculties to the utmost?”
Imagine the surprise if the shareholders of a brewing company were to ask, not only what the profits are etc., but what goes in to the beer itself? This would show personal responsibility and care for the product.
‘War forces the consumer into a right attitude to the work’ – things are made and valued not according to how much they can be sold for, but according to their worth in itself. Once nothing is demanded of the product but its own quality and value, the skills and labour of the worker also take on an absolute value.
Points arising out of the doctrinal position on the nature of work:
- Work is not something that one does to live, but what one lives to do.
a. the value of our work is not what we’re paid, but the value that it gives to us.
‘What most of us demand from society is that we should always get out of it a little more than the value of the labour we give to it.’ This means we feel constantly owed a debt by society, and causes us to have a grudge.
b. everyone should do the work for which they’re most naturally fitted. Most people start with what will pay best, what is cheapest etc.
c. we shouldn’t look at work as something to do until we can enjoy ourselves, but the time that we enjoy as something that refreshes us so that we can get on with our work.
‘We should all find ourselves fighting, as now only artists and members of certain professions fight, for precious time in which to get on with the job – instead of fighting for precious hours saved from the job.’
d. we should fight tooth and nail, not for mere employment, but for the quality of the work that we do.
- The Church must recognise that secular vocation is sacred, and if someone is called to a particular work, that is as true as vocation to religious work.
‘In nothing has the Church so lost her hold on reality as in her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation.’ Work and religion have been separated and we’re surprised when work has become selfish and destructive. ‘How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?’
The Church often focuses on telling a carpenter to behave in his leisure times and to come to church – but ‘the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.’
Work has been so devalued that the church will accept absolute rubbish – She has forgotten ‘that a building must be good architecture before it can be a good church; that a painting must be well painted before it can be a good sacred picture; that work must be good work before it can call itself God’s work.’
The disciples complained that it was not right for them to drop the preaching of the word to serve tables, and for others it is not right that they should leave the service of tables to preach the word.
Bad Christian films – usually because they choose piety of the people involved before skill. The right actor with bad character would have given a more reverent performance than the saintly actor with no qualifications.
‘God is not served by technical incompetence; and incompetence and untruth always result when the secular vocation is treated as thing alien to religion.’
- The worker’s duty is first to serve the work.
The only way to serve the community is to forget the community and serve the work. Three reasons why:
- You cannot do good if you take your mind off the world to see how the community is taking it.
- The moment you think of serving other people, you begin to have a notion that they owe you something for your pains.
- If you set out to serve the community, you will probably end by merely fulfilling public demand – and may not even do that.
‘If work is to find its right place in the world, it is the duty of the Church to see to it that the work serves God, and that the worker serves the work.’
- I need to be a good, competent worker before I can be a good priest
- My work should be of the highest possible quality for its own sake
- Rather than focusing on the community, focus on God and the work