As I study the ancient wisdom of Solomon I am reminded of our options when it comes to work. These four things have challenged and re-calibrated me recently.
1. We can be industrious.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 – And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
It is possible for our hands and our hearts to be incongruent. What I am saying is we can be incredibly skilled and sadly unfulfilled in our work.
When we work only to impress others and not to please God we are in trouble.
We should seek to be industrious without being envious. We should seek to be successful without being out of balance and out of touch with our interior world. This is easier said than done!
2. We can be idle.
Ecclesiastes 4:5 – Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves.
At the other end of the spectrum of being overly industrious is being idle. When we are lazy with our work we also often become lazy with our relationships, faith and physical activity. When we “fold our hands” and become idle in one area of life it often affects every area of life and brings us, as the verse says, to ruin.
3. We can be integrated.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 – Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.
Why have two handfuls of profit if it costs you your peace? There are so many in this world who have no idea when enough is enough.
The integrated person displays integrity.
This person realizes that there is more to life than work. And they fight to maintain a healthy balance between the two.
4. We can be independent.
Ecclesiastes 4:8 – There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless — a miserable business!
This person is reflected often in this world. They are incredibly successful and lonely. They have traded unreasonable work hours for money and then found they had no time or companions with whom to enjoy their success. One of the saddest things I have witnessed over the years is the extreme loneliness of the extremely driven.
We were never meant to work or do life alone.
I am praying for you curious friends as you seek to work well.