That was the question my 4-year-old daughter recently asked on the way home from church. Such random questions weren’t rare for her. As we cruised down South Santa Fe, perhaps the streetlights hit the German Auto Parts Dealer at the right angle, or perhaps she was concerned about the Old Saint Nicholas Christmas store that was closed for the season. Either way, it was an interesting question.
“Well, Sierra, just imagine. If there were no stores we wouldn’t have this car we are driving in. We wouldn’t be driving on roads, these streetlights wouldn’t be on, and we wouldn’t even have these clothes on our backs – maybe we’d be naked! We wouldn’t have any food in the grocery stores, our house would eventually fall apart, and we wouldn’t have any warm baths.”
“And daddy, there wouldn’t be any doctors!” she replied. This was of great concern to her, because playing doctor with her 2-year-old sister was her favorite game. “Nope, no doctors,” I said. “Wouldn’t that be terrible.”
My daughter’s question reminded me of a question asked by Lester DeKoster, the author of Work: The Meaning of Your Life.
“Imagine that everyone quits working, right now! What happens? Civilized life quickly melts away. Food vanishes from the store shelves, gas pumps dry up, streets are no longer patrolled, and fires burn themselves out. Communication and transportation services end and utilities go dead. Those who survive at all are soon huddled around campfires, sleeping in tents, and clothed in rags.”
So what’s the difference between civilized life and barbarism?
“The difference between barbarism and culture is, simply, work. One of the mystifying facts of history is why certain people create progressive cultures while others lag behind. Whatever the explanation, the power lays in work.”
Simply put, work is about creating human civilization. Few go into the office on Monday and think that way, but the skyscrapers of Dubai and the sewage systems of Paris wouldn’t exist without work. Nor would this Mac I’m typing on right now. Work is the source of all the things that most intimately affect human life: organizations, products, and services. And apparently that fact is not lost on 4-year-olds. Work might be a burden sometimes. But can you imagine a world without work?
Why should Christians care about integrating their faith and their work? Perhaps a better question: does God care about civilization?
And the LORD said, “Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than 120,000 people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?” (Jonah 4:11).
Discussion question: What would happen if, overnight, your business or organization closed? What would be lost? Who would it matter to?
(Photo: I Am Legend, Annie Wu)