My small group finished The Truth Project several weeks ago. The next to the last lesson was titled Labor: Created to Create. In this lesson, Dr. Tackett argued that negative attitudes towards work are at odds with a scriptural worldview. Work is not a curse but is rooted in the very nature of God, the Creator.
I have disagreed with Dr. Tackett on a lot of issues but I can’t argue with him about the value of labor. Human beings were designed to work. He is correct in saying that the wealth produced by labor meets the physical needs of mankind. If you can find work that not only meets your physical needs, but also fits your God-given talents and abilities, you are blessed.
In lesson seven (Sociology: The Divine Imprint), Tackett identified six social systems or “spheres” that he believes reflect the triune nature of God. Just as I thought it was a stretch when Tackett claimed that God imprinted his triune nature on the family or the state, I see no basis for his claim that labor, as a social institution, reflects the three-in-one nature of God. Once again, Tackett drew a circle to represent a social system and wrote the names of three members of that system – God, employers and employees – inside the circle. He noted that there is a superior/subordinate relationship between employer and employee, similar to God the Father and Jesus the Son. That’s it.
Seven Economic Principles
Putting aside my disagreement with Tackett on the divine design of labor, I think he made valid points with what he calls economic principles. Whether you are an employer or an employee, the principles Tackett laid out are worth reflecting on. All things belong to God. We are stewards of God’s goods. Our skills and abilities are gifts from God. We are to love God and not money. Because God has been generous in entrusting us with everything we have, we should be compassionate and generous towards those who are in need.
- All things belong to God.
- God appointed man to be a creative steward of his goods with ownership rights.
- Theft and coveting of another’s goods is wrong.
- Skills and abilities to work come from God.
- Work is profitable, good and to be pursued; laziness is not.
- Love God and not your goods.
- Be compassionate and generous with your goods to those in need.
Prideful people boast about their accomplishments and forget what God has done for them. Greedy people pursue more and more wealth and power, never satisfied with what they have. Envious people compare themselves to others and covet what others have. Selfishness and indifference stop those who have plenty from sharing with those in need.
Created to ________________
The subtitle of the lesson, “Created to Create” gives me pause. Tackett said that our creativity is a mirror-image of the creativity of God. God is Creator and since we were created in his image, we were created to be creators, right? Many people are creative. Artists and inventors come to mind. But what if I’m not really creative? What if the kind of work I was created to do does not require creativity? Creativity in my profession (accounting) is actually frowned upon.
We were created to fill in the blank, to contribute to our families and communities. We were created to do all sorts of things. Nursing, teaching, preaching, caring for children, repairing, cleaning, installing, delivering, building, farming, managing, researching, investigating, judging, defending, advising, serving, etc. Whether our jobs are creative and exciting or mundane and routine, the work we do matters.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.Colossians 3: 23-24
Tackett said that labor is designed to be so fulfilling that “the Lord deemed it necessary” to command us to take a Sabbath. I don’t think Tackett appreciates how difficult and unrewarding some jobs are. Not everyone has a job that is “a source of joy so fulfilling and wonderful” that they have to be commanded to stop working. When people in our culture speak negatively about working, it isn’t necessarily because they are against working per se. Perhaps they have a bad manager. Perhaps they have difficult coworkers. Maybe they are overworked and underpaid.
When I think about what I do for a living and about the work that others do (whether paid or unpaid), I am grateful that God designed each us with unique talents and abilities and personalities. I am grateful for work because not everyone who wants to work is able to work. I am grateful that other people have the desire to do the kinds of work that I do not want to do and that others have the skills and aptitudes I lack.