The idolatry of work

As Pastor Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 1 of Every Good Endeavor, he reiterates an idea he presented earlier in the chapter, that many people mistakenly think of work as a curse.  Antithetically, then, something else such as leisure or family becomes the only way to find meaning in life.  Yet, the fact that God rested after Creation exposes this lie as well as the reverse notion- that work is the only important human activity and rest is a necessary evil.

Pastor Keller then emphasizes the importance of balancing work and rest:

“If you make any work the purpose of your life- even if that work is church ministry (italics mine)- you create an idol that rivals God.  Your relationship with God is the most important foundation for your life, and indeed it keeps all the other factors . . . from becoming so important to you that they become addicting or distorted.”

One essential aspect of leisure, as argued by twentieth-century German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, is that leisure cannot be defined merely as the absence of work.  We also must have the ability to enjoy the simplest and most ordinary aspects of life- to see them as delightful in and of themselves, regardless of their possible usefulness.

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Dave Henning

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