Talented Nigerian musician, Adekunle Gold, in one of his songs titled, “work,’’ encouraged people to work hard. This is in harmony with what is in Ecclesiastes chapter 9, verse 10, that, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might.’’
Work – whether paid or unpaid, is good for our health and wellbeing. It contributes to our happiness, helps us to build confidence and self-esteem, and can reward us financially. Work is an essential tool through which individuals can achieve their goals, flourish, and lead happy, meaningful lives.
Work has different dimensions, such as work for making a living and for developing one’s talent and potential. For example, a little girl in one of the corners of the world who attends kindergarten and learns how to count, draw, or write, is working. Likewise, an adult, who goes to his/her job every day, and gets paid for it. Thus, based on the age, circumstances, needs and desires of individuals, work or labour takes different shapes.
Work is a virtue and necessity which requires time and energy. Man is in control of his time and energy when he voluntarily and constructively works. The Bible emphasises the importance of work when it says, among other things, in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 3, verses 10 to 12 that: “. . . if anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.’’ This scripture condemns laziness. We need to work to make a living and provide for our families. Work provides the individual with the ability to be independent, flourish, develop, and most importantly, find a meaning to life.
However, there are many problems affecting work and workers in Nigeria today. These include: unemployment, poor remuneration/wages, poor working environment and conditions and casualisation among others. Many people experience poverty and unemployment through no fault of theirs. Many who are able to work, willing to work hard, and even actively searching for work are still unable to find work.
Unemployment and poverty are two of the major problems currently plaguing Nigeria’s economy and its society. Nevertheless, despite the high rate of unemployment and poverty, the situation is not necessarily hopeless. People can still find some meaningful work to do even though it may be small.
If you are unemployed, or cannot find a job in your area of particular interest, it is wise to consider looking for a job in other areas, even if the job is considered ‘menial’ by the Nigerian standard. Do not allow false pride to let you look down on a job – as beneath you. Any legitimate service that can benefit others, and that people are willing to pay for, can be considered as an alternative job opportunity when jobs are scarce.
People differ in terms of many characteristics such as intelligence, talents and academic levels. Therefore, depending on human potential and the specific working environment, work can be equally beneficial to the person or demeaning. For example, prostitution, gambling, and drug dealing constitute work, as the players get a kind of remuneration from them. But the money they get out of these kinds of work becomes useless, as it neither contributes to human development nor meaningful life. Work should be the key to human survival and development and not to degrade humanity and moral values.
Also, no matter how honest, working from dawn to sunset does not make a life flourish either. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” goes a saying. Workaholics deprive themselves of the enjoyment of engaging in other activities. Productive work is not an end-in-itself, but a means to an end. If one pursues productive work to the exclusion of everything else in one’s life, so that it becomes one’s only purpose in life, this will undermine one’s growth. On the other hand, those who keep a balanced life are likely to enjoy their work even more.
So, whether your work is mostly mental, physical, or somewhere in between, recognise that there is dignity in labour. Hard work helps us to care for our material needs. Moreover, it contributes to our self-respect, after all, hard work is just that – hard. When we discipline ourselves to stick with our work – even if it seems boring or difficult – we can have the satisfaction of knowing that we held ourselves to a high standard. We have won the victory over the inclination to take the easy way out. In that sense, work brings an intense feeling of satisfaction.