Have you ever wondered why it takes so much to get results out of your work? You give your best effort, and yet the outcome is often mediocre, seemingly out of sync with the time, energy and resources expended to achieve it. We live with the continual reality of not seeing as much fruit from our work as we anticipated. I believe this is one of the main reasons that make it difficult to consistently enter our places of work with hope and enthusiasm.
If you have worked in Dar for any period of time, you may have answered the above question along the following lines: the power cuts while I am in the middle of my job, the traffic jams sap my energy, the phone network is erratic when I need to make important calls, demands for bribes are keeping us out of the market, and cash flow is bad because clients do not pay on time.
The frustrations mentioned above stem not from the work itself, but from the environment in which the work is done. This implies that removing these and other bottlenecks to work is itself a worthwhile endeavour. Phrases like ‘the investment climate’ and ‘the business environment’ are used frequently by those with the resources and expertise to identify these challenges and find the solutions to address them.
A few weeks ago we discussed that work is from God. We pointed out that people work because they are created in the image of the Greatest Worker, God himself. Today we are reflecting on how, despite this amazing basis for work, it is affected by unfruitfulness. The Bible provides the best insight into this dilemma.
Following Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, God cursed the ground. Genesis 3:17-18 tells us that God said to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.”
Notice that God did not curse the work itself, but he cursed the ground. He cursed the environment in which the work happens. Thorns and thistles sprout out to choke the potential of our work. The challenges we described earlier about working in Dar are some of the present day thorns and thistles that we contend with. This explains why our best efforts are often followed by disappointing results.
Fortunately for us, God is gracious, and the situation is not entirely hopeless. You will agree that despite the challenges, your work does yield fruit, sometimes in significant ways. Despite the curse, we are still able to obtain results from our labour. It is sobering to accept that our work will never reach its full potential. Nevertheless, because of God’s goodness we are able to produce something meaningful. It will be wise for us to take this tension to heart as we build Dar through our work.