It seems each day another video goes viral of one of my fellow Gen Zers lamenting his or her workload. These videos have consistent messages, “I have too much on my plate,” “I can’t be expected to do all of this,” or “how can anyone manage all this?” Perhaps there is some merit to the workload imbalance of college students who also have to work to provide for themselves or their families. However, a much different theme is working itself out in these viral videos.
The cultural moment right now does not emphasize hard work. Right now the videos that go viral trend with words like “quiet quitting,” “act your wage,” and “work-life balance.” Too often, “work-life balance” has resulted in work-life imbalance. The current cultural moment is telling young people that hard work is archaic, a thing our grandparents did to their detriment. Christians need to recognize this cultural moment and provide a witness to it through a strong work ethic and time management.
A Theology of Hard Work and Time Management
Work six days and rest on the seventh. That was God’s prescription for the Israelites based on his own example in creation (Gen. 2:2-3, Ex. 20:8-11). The Sabbath was a calendar keeping system, but it was also God’s design for human work and rest. God’s desire for Israel was for them to work hard and have a dedicated day(s) off. God knew the best thing for those in His image was to work hard, as He had, and to rest, as He had.
Hard work was not invented post-Industrial Revolution. Throughout Scripture God’s people are commanded to work hard. “Go to the ant, O sluggard, consider her ways and be wise” (Prov. 6:6). Likewise, scripture commands God’s people to manage their time well.
- “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).
- “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Col. 4:5).
Time management is rooted in hard work. The days are “evil,” Paul warned. It is easy to waste our days and not do the work God has given us. Time management and hard work are Christian ethics rooted in daily evil and the inevitability of death. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom,” the psalmist wrote (Ps. 90:12). Number your days, take an account of how you spend your time, because sin wants you to waste each day until you die having lived an unproductive life. For those in Christ, you are called to work hard. As Paul explained, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).