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Live to Work, or Work to Live

WLC Day 4

Over the summer I asked my uncle whether he liked his job. He responded by saying, "Some people live to work. I work to live."
It wasn't that he liked his job, nor did he dislike his job--he just tolerated it enough to do it well and make money so that he could live the rest of his life. And I really respect that.
But I wonder, is that the best case scenario?

We all know someone who is a workaholic--they enjoy the accomplishments of putting in a long hard day and doing quality work; they get their sense of purpose through their paycheck and the accolades associated with the job. This is someone who lives to work, and I would argue in an unhealthy way.

On the flip side is our friend who puts in just the minimum amount of effort at work--they arrive just in time and leave as soon as possible; they collect their paycheck and have thought of a hundred ways they would like to spend it once they get home. This is someone who works to live.

And naturally there are people at every point between these two extremes, occupying various levels of working vs. living.

Lately I have begun to wonder if there is a third choice: work to bring life. What if you felt so thoroughly convinced that the work you did bettered other people's lives and provided value to other people. You worked enough time to make the money necessary for expenses but went home when you felt you had made enough* each day. And when you got home you had purpose and things to work towards there too. Working on your family, working on your faith, and working on your health...as some examples. What if working and living were both good things and you valued both equally? 

*Proverbs 30:8b-9
"Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my daily portion, that I not be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God."

Our word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare: to call. Thus, a vocation should not just be an occupation but rather a calling.

I'm still looking to see if this balance is possible, but there is something deep inside me that says work should be about more than just collecting an income, it should be about fulfilling a vocation. 

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