The Myth Of the Protestant Work Ethic
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16 Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 2 Timothy 2:15-16 (NLT2)
When you want to do things well, really well, it’s then you do them worse. Humble yourself before Jesus, saying to him: Don’t you see how I do everything wrong? Well, if you don’t help me very much, I’ll do it all even worse! Take pity on your child: You see, I want to write a big page each day in the book of my life. But, I’m so clumsy, that if the Master doesn’t guide my hand, instead of graceful strokes my pen leaves behind blots and scratches that can’t be shown to anyone. From now on, Jesus, the writing will always be done by both of us together.
One of the greatest challenges in life has been living up to the standards I have set, to live up to my expectations. As a result, I’ve battled self-esteem issues. and I’ve felt like a failure in a lot of things I do.
Or at best, I am a jack of a few things, master of none. Barely competent. and knowing that is incredibly frustrating.
I never ever thought that the problem was with my expectations, I always blamed it on what I did. And so I would push myself more, and fail more. I would read books of people that were successful, and try to emulate what they did. Or at least what they looked back and saw themselves doing right.
The passage from Paul, read out of context, added to my stress. It is one of those upon which the mythical protestant work ethic is based. Work hard, gee approved b God. Overcome, adapt, succeed. If you have enough drive – you can do anything! Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get er done.
But the context of service there is, the diligence is focused on our relationship with God, keeping His message, the gospel correct.
Or in the words of St. Josemaria, depending on God, and welcoming His participation in our life. His work in keeping us righteous, His guidance working through us in our ministry, whatever that is, wherever it is.
Even if it is at home during a virus. …
Life is too important to do our work alone, struggling through it, trying to keep up with images that we cannot hope to attain. The stress alone will destroy our effectiveness. The times of failure, of guilt and shame, even of inactivity will shatter us.
But as we relax, as we focus on God’s presence with Him, as we walk with Him, it changes how we work, as we begin to enjoy it, even the rough parts. It becomes like a child’s play! Not that we are any less enthusiastic, in fact, we might be more so, as we depend on God’s presence, as we work with Him.
But the work isn’t the primary focus – it is all about Him….
For the Lord is with you!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.