What is our motivation to work? Many people say we work to accumulate wealth, in order acquire material possessions, so that we would find happiness. For those who give that answer, I have a question for them: how much wealth and stuff is needed in order to find happiness?
Changing Wealth Goals
The answer to this question is very hard to determine. That is because peoples’ standards for happiness changes on a day to day basis. As a result, the work of man is very exhaustive. There seems to be no end of the work man does. The preacher in Ecclesiastes knew this as truth : All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. (Ecclesiastes 1:8, NIV).
For example, suppose you set for yourself a personal goal and after working really hard, you attain it. You would think that you would be satisfied, but that is not the case. That is because as soon as one goal is completed, another soon takes its place and the cycle begins all over again. The preacher tells us this in verse 9 of chapter 1: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (NIV)
People aren’t content with the things they have and are always looking for the next big thing. This quest to seek out something new is a wearisome exercise. The preacher tells us: Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. (Ecclesiastes 1:10-11, NIV)
The new trends we seek are not new at all. In fact they are just a repackaging of a trend that was already present in the world. However, due to our tendency to be forgetful, we see this repackaged trend as something new. As result, our interest in this “new” trend eventually fades away and we are back to square one, trying to find something in this world to be content with.
Wealth Goal is Unreachable
With all this in mind, our motivation to work should not be to acquire wealth or obtain stuff. It is a futile exercise to work for money or for stuff because there is no end goal in it. We can’t just earn a certain amount and be done. Our human nature prevents us from being content with what we have. As a result, we are compelled to want more and more until we get wearied by it all.
The First Gift to Man
So if our goal for working is not to get things, why do we work? Let’s consider what happened in the beginning of Genesis. When God created Adam, what was the first thing He gave to Him (and no, it was not Eve)? The Lord gave him a job to take care of the garden of Eden. Why did God give Adam a job?
Being Like God
The Lord is always working. There is not a day when He is not being active. The purpose of giving Adam a job was to give him a chance to experience what God does everyday. Therefore work was not initially designed to be a curse for mankind, but a gift; an opportunity to live like the Almighty does.
Therefore our motivation to work shouldn’t be for material things. Instead, we ought to work because it was given from the Lord. Now when we labor, it should not be out of obligation to the One who gave it to us. It must be out of appreciation for the gift of work He has given. Think about it, it is through our jobs that we are able to support ourselves both financially and emotionally; people tend to be more happy when they are working. So the next time you ask yourself why you do what you do, think about the One who gave you the job and say, “I labor because my God gave me this job and I will do my very best to make Him proud!”