On social media, a quote circulated that was attributed to both Eartha Kitt and James Baldwin states, “I do not have a dream job because I do not dream of labor.” This became an anthem for young people in an era of quiet quitting. The view and value of work that my grandparents and parents had is so different from what we are witnessing today. Instead of adhering to a culture of hustle and working until things get done as valued in previous generations, people today are just doing the bare minimum.
I remember retirement parties as a young woman in my career. It was not unusual for someone to start at a company out of high school and stay at the same place until they retired. That is not my story or the story of many today. The loyalty that existed between employers and employees appears to be a trend of the past. Many employees feel overworked, underpaid, and undervalued.
One study found that “quiet quitting is often a direct response to how employees are
treated at work. Although 86% of employees say they care about their company’s success, 39% say their company doesn’t care about them. More than half of workers (56%) say they are underpaid, and 40% say they are underappreciated at work.” For younger workers, they are choosing not to work in toxic environments and are often disillusioned about work because of what they have witnessed from previous generations especially as it relates to work-life balance. We have normalized a culture that views success as important no matter the cost. Our culture has made work an idol because it has become a means to make as much money as possible. There is nothing wrong with making money. It is a problem when making money is at the expense of our families, our relationships, and our well-being. This view has cost us in ways that we have yet to realize its full impact.
We need to know the difference between striving and work. In the Bible, striving is defined as laboring hard or grasping after. When we are striving, we are operating in our strength and not seeking God. We are operating in self-ambition. “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.” (Philippians 2:3-4) Striving is about working hard for our gain even if it is at the expense of others.
When we are striving, it is easy to focus on our needs instead of what God wants for our lives.
Psalm 46:10 is a reminder of putting first things first : “Cease striving and know that I am God”. I find that so many people have a list of things they want to accomplish and there is nothing wrong with working hard to achieve goals. The problem is that God is often an afterthought and then we want our efforts to be blessed when we did not seek God first before we started the work.
It’s not that God does not want us to work but it’s understanding the value that God places on rest. Rest has such an impact on our work and the way we live in the world. For some reason, we have misconstrued this order in our lives. In Genesis 2, God created the world, the animals, human life, and rested. In Exodus 20:8-10 and Exodus 33:12-14, God provides the Israelites instructions on resting. God instructs them to follow His plan and when doing so, rest happens. Resting is not only physical but it is also spiritual, emotional, and mental. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus reminds us that our souls need rest. Rest is important in our lives and when this is valued, we can expect positive results in every other area of our lives.
As we celebrate Labor Day, don’t dream of labor. Focus on time with your family and friends but also incorporate time away from labor to create a routine that includes rest and relaxation. All of us need this in our lives to experience God’s true success.
Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the President of Soulstice Consultancy and the Founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation. She is also the author of four books and the host of the Tapestry podcast.