The Little Work Book: Chapter 1

Everything Gets Better with Work

      Every week, I am faced with a fascinating contrast between those who work and those who do not. On Monday evenings, I facilitate a men’s small group in prison where the majority of those attending have never held down a full-time job. Often our discussions lead to how critical it is for them to embrace the concept of getting a job and keeping it once they get out. We talk about how important it is for them to follow the instructions of scripture, to work heartily as unto the Lord, and to provide for their families.

     On Friday mornings, I attend a men’s group on the outside where the majority of those attending have very good jobs, run successful businesses, or are retired from one or the other. The conversations on Friday are frequently about how to establish better balance between work, family, and their relationship with God.

     The men from Monday night have a difficult time disciplining themselves to show up every day and put in an honest day’s work. The men from Friday morning have a difficult time disciplining themselves to take time off.  Although there is effort needed in both instances, it is usually easier to slow down than it is to speed up. There are solutions such as delegating, sub-contracting, or outsourcing that can offer opportunities to slow down. To speed up puts the full responsibility on one person.

     This book is primarily for those who need to speed up, for those who need to learn how to work. I believe an important element to preventing, processing, and solving many problems is work. Are you having trouble in your marriage? Go to work. The space and time away can clear the mind and calm emotions. Are you feeling depressed? Go to work. When you work, you are being productive and accomplishing things, while taking time off from feeling bad about yourself. Are you feeling under the weather? Go to work. I’m not suggesting that if you are truly ill you should work, but if it is a matter of not quite feeling your best, moving around and activating your brain can help your recovery. How much different would your life be if your default decision when things get tough was to go to work instead of drugs, drinking, watching television, or junk food binges?

     But what if you don’t like the job you have? Perhaps I’ve not met the right people yet, but so far, I don’t know of anyone who does not have at least one story about a job they didn’t like. Even in situations where someone might have what they would describe as the perfect job, there are usually aspects about it that are not enjoyable.

     So if you are unhappy with the work you are currently doing, do it anyway. Do it until you can find something better. If you don’t show up to work, you will start to fall into a pattern of life getting worse instead of better. When you decide to skip work, you are telling your employer there is something else more important going on in your life than the job you agreed to do. Most employers understand sickness and emergencies, but they have also heard every excuse in the book from those who don’t respect work, so your brilliant justification for not being there is nothing new. Save your breath, get up, and go to work. Just showing up every day speaks volumes to your boss, not to mention it’s the right thing to do. I have never done the right thing and regretted it later. I have never gone to work and at the end of the day wished I had skipped. I have never picked up my check on payday and wished I hadn’t gone to work that week.

     Sometimes we have to take some tiny steps to improve our situation. And what smaller step could we take than to commit to always show up to work? Who do you think the boss appreciates the most? The person who always shows up. Who do you think the boss considers first for a raise or promotion? The person who always shows up. Who do you think the boss is most likely to give a good reference for? The person who always shows up. Who do you think is at the top of the boss’ list for getting nothing? The guy who doesn’t show up. 

Life is not that difficult. Quit your whining. Grow up. Get a job. Go to work. Someday you’ll be older. You’ll look back, smile, and say, “Aw... that wasn’t so bad.”