Political rhetoric fails to reflect true value of work

We heard a lot of talk from both presidential candidates last night about the need for jobs in America, but throughout the campaign, neither Obama nor Romney has focused on the concept of truly valuable work, according to Hugh Whelchel, executive director of the Institute of Faith, Work & Economics. He blogs for the Washington Post:

If you listen to the rhetoric of both candidates, you will hear about jobs that pay the bills and let us do what we want to do, but not much more. It’s a self-centered view of work which has been so prominent in the last 40 years. It has brought us big government, crony capitalism and greedy Wall Street bankers, all of whom are just looking after their own interests. It is this “it’s all about me” perspective that has our nation headed in the wrong direction. It is found in the board rooms of corporations and in the halls of the local labor unions.

In my Christian tradition, the Bible tells us that work should do more that just pay the bills. Theologian John Stott defined work as “the expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community and glory to God.” We should not just work to live, but live to work, seeking not only to improve our own circumstances but also those around us as well.

This is the message the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah told God’s people who were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. He challenged them to work for the peace and prosperity of the city, for if it prospered, they too would prosper (Jeremiah 29:7). If they worked hard at their jobs with the mindset that their work would benefit their community, they would also benefit from their work.

This resonates with me. Particularly in a time when “jobs” (as measured by employment statistics) are scarce, we have plenty truly important work to do.

Read Welchel’s full post here.

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