Some of them are old enough to hold down part-time jobs. . . and so they do. Others are old enough to hold down part-time jobs, yet for any number of reasons, they don’t. All of them will someday leave high school and take a step towards adult life that will either include stepping right into the working world, or a few more years of education in the hopes that a degree will prepare them for a “good”job. At some point, they will have to make “a living.”
What will the kids you know and love see as the end or purpose of work? Why will they choose to pursue the job and career path they choose to pursue? Will their goals be economic in ways that make the old Loverboy song “Working For the Weekend” their personal anthem? Or will they push back on the empty promises and faulty philosophy of what’s become known as “The American Dream?”
If we truly believe that the Gospel speaks to all of life and that Christian nurture leads to the integration of faith into our work, then we need to be pointing our kids to something better than what the culture is currently giving them.
These thoughts have been prompted by an article I just read in the latest edition of First Things. Catholic University’s Max Torres as a little piece titled “America Needs Work” that offers some helpful perspective on President Trump’s push on the Carrier Corporation to keep eight-hundred jobs in Indiana rather than shifting them to Mexico. What resonated with me was not Torres’ analysis of the Carrier story, but his comments on a theology of work. Torres challenges readers – and our kids! – to embark on a life of work that’s not pointed towards the trajectory of economic gain, to realizing our full humanity.
Here are some of his words to consider. . . and as you consider them, ponder how you can best lead kids into a richer, fuller, more thoughtful, and God-glorifying way of looking at and engaging in work. . .
“The investment of the person into productive projects is of transcendent, transformative importance, not just for the material progress of society, but most of all for the full realization of human potential.”
“Jobs mean more than income. We are created to do work, and in the doing, we become, more and more, who we are.”
“Work make us more fully human, something an income can’t do.”
“Viewed from the perspective of human development – the most important perspective – un paid work in the home or with children is as important for a flourishing society as investment banking at Goldman Sachs, perhaps more so. Working at McDonald’s has no less dignity than working at a law firm.”
“Only the child, the fool, and the holy man live today as if tomorrow will take care of itself. On the only hand, only the skeptic, the miser, and the materialist believe that reality consists only of what we can touch and number.”
Youth workers and parents – what are you teaching your kids about the relationship between faith, work, and human flourishing? Do they understand the command to “fill the earth and subdue it?” To teach them nothing is to teach them something. . . and that “something” does not lead to realizing our full humanity.
(I highly recommend these two books on work. . . Timothy Keller’s “Every Good Endeavor” and Steve Garber’s “Visions of Vocation.” You can order them both from our friends at Hearts & Minds Books.)