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ReVision

Unhappy at Work

  • November 29, -0001
The current issue of The Economist (October 10th) reports on a disturbing upward trend in job-related suicides among workers in certain sectors of the worldwide economy. For example, in America work-related suicides increased by 28% in just one year. The Economist argues that suicides are just the most dramatic evidence of growing disatisfaction and unhappiness among workers all over the world.

We might think the recession is to blame; however, The Economist suggests that the recession has merely brought to the surface unrest and unhappiness that have been brewing for years. People feel too much stress on the job, too much pressure to produce and to conform to standards of productivity. They feel underappreciated, underused, and a growing sense of disaffection from management that cares more about the bottom line than job security for loyal workers.

The Economist suggests that managers and executives need to bring more of a "human touch" to their relationships with workers. But I doubt that will suffice to give workers the contentment they need. The problem, it seems to me, is that too many people expect too much out of their jobs. Too many have invested their identities, financial security, personal well-being, self-worth, and much more in the jobs where they spend most of their waking moments. Of course work matters, and we should take our work seriously and do the best job we can at whatever we choose to do. But work is just that - work, the expenditure of intellectual, emotional, and physical energy toward a task which contributes to the influx of goods and services to the economy. Surely human beings are more than cogs in the wheel of getting and spending?

In Biblical terms, work is a gift and calling from God. But work is not god. It's important that we understand this and that we look to the right Source for our sense of meaning, purpose, and value in life, as well as for our personal well-being. When we try to get from our work what we should only seek from God, we confuse the nature and purpose of work and make it a kind of impersonal deity which can never deliver what we long for most of all - self-worth, meaning, and security. These gifts, like work, come from God to all men; only those who respond to Him with gratitude and trust will find that He and He alone can meet their deepest needs, quite apart from whatever may be their circumstances at work.

T. M. Moore

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