With great delight I welcome you to this great month in a great year, our Month of Moving from Labour to Success. Labour is not an attractive word when compared to blessing, mercy, favour and similar words of grace. But it will interest you that the root of all those words is labour. It is from sweat to sweetness. If a woman did not travail in labour she cannot bring forth a child of blessing to humanity. The Good Samaritan was able to show mercy to the wounded man because he had the means as a result of his earnings from previous labor. As early as Genesis chapter two God told Adam to ‘till the land,’ simply put, engage in fruitful labour. Jesus also said -Occupy till I come, simply saying -engage in profitable labour for the kingdom. This month of the year I want you to embrace, integrate and practicalize the vocabulary and the culture of labour to your curriculum. We are a generation of ease, and drive through. A generation that wants manna instead of planting in Gilgal. Our prayer and body language in today’s Christianity longs for blessings without labour and corresponding responsibility. Some prosperity message advocates are teaching “sweatless success” I beg to disagree with teachings that are not rooted in scripture. Let us make this month our month to learn about the dignity of labour and embrace the scripture “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1Cor 15: 58. I pray that as you engage in fruitful labour, God will crown your labour with success. I see you moving from labour to success from pain to gain and cross to the crown!
What is labour?
Labour means work. Labour is the amount of physical, mental, and social effort used to produce goods and services in an economy. It supplies the expertise, manpower, and service needed to turn raw materials into finished products and services. An online dictionary defines labour as work, especially hard physical work. Labour is practical work, especially when it involves hard physical effort. Work means mental and physical movement or drive towards achieving your purpose. Labour is the vehicle that drives people from Mr. Nobody to Mr. Somebody. Nobody gets to the platform of success without climbing the stairs or ladders of labour.
Types of labour.
Labor can be categorized in different ways. First is the skill level. The most basic is unskilled labor that does not require training, although it’s usually manual labor such as farm work or service work, such as janitorial. Across Greater Toronto Area you might notice sign boards asking for “General Labour”. The next is semi-skilled labor that requires some education or training. An example is manufacturing jobs. They may also be contractual jobs. Wikipedia says “Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leave a woman’s body or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 135 million births globally.” From above you can see that no matter your social status there is a type of work you can do to bolster the economy. That is the goal we hope this article motivates.
- God Initiated and encouraged it. “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Gen 2:15 One of the realities presented early on in God’s Word is that the Lord intended for man to work. Adam, the first man, was placed in the Garden of Eden and tasked with tending to it. It’s clear that God intended for man to work and be productive. God is a perfect creator can you imagine a world without any form of labour? Everybody in the world just wakes up and do nothing, we shall not only have a boring world but a world without productivity and the conveniences that our labour has produced will elude us!
- It is the right thing to do. Why should you be idle and expect others to work for you to eat. It is against the natural course of man and existence. Apostle Paul said “He who does not work, neither shall he eat”. If there are no fishermen where are we to get fish to eat? If there are no farmers how shall we have food to eat? What if there are no house builders, with all attending masons, carpenters, roofers and diggers? Imagine if there are no teachers and rulers? We shall all be in a jungle. Labour is the right thing to do. We need manufacturers, health officials, imagine if there are no health officials, COVID-19 would have terminated the world in a jiffy.
- There is profit. Labour is the path to success. “In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tends only to penury” Prov 14:23 Any man engaged in the dignity of labour enjoys both the process and the end result. Can you imagine the joy of people producing aircraft? I used to work in the refinery. The joy of refining crude, getting petrol/gas to enable people drive their cars, producing resins for most of the plastic materials gave me joy. Can you imagine the joy of vehicle makers? Recently Electric Vehicles are emerging, can you imagine the joy and profit they are making. Tesla maker, Elon Musk suddenly became the richest man in the world! There is profit in labour. Can you imagine the joy of a guard who rescues a drowning person? In Psalm 1:3 “Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Are you a mechanic, fashion designer, janitor, banker, radiographer, doctor, engineer, pastor, blogger, coach, lawyer, builder, you shall prosper. God’s plan is for everyone that works to make profit. No food for the idle and lazy ones. I see you moving form labour to success. Engage yourself in profitable labour, make it a life style to work.
A classic poem -epitomizing dignity of labour.
‘Ise L’ogun Ise’ one of the classic poems of African poetry in Yoruba language written by J.F. Odunjo. We grew up leaning this poem I want you to learn it and put it to use in your life.
“Work is the antidote for poverty/Work hard, my friend/Work/Labour is the major tool for elevation/If we do not have anyone to lean on/We appear indolent/If we do not have anyone to support us/We simply work harder/Your mother might be rich/Your father may have a stable full of horses/If you rely on them/You are close to shame and disgrace, I tell you/Whatever one does not work hard to earn/does not last/Whatever gain one seriously labours for/Usually lasts with one/Your arm is your kin/The elbow is your sibling/If the world loves you today/If you have money/The world will still love you tomorrow/Or if you are in a prestigious position/The world will celebrate you with smiles/Wait till you become poor/The world will grimace at you/Education also elevates one to higher positions/Ensure that you acquire it well/And if you see a lot of people/Making mockery of education with laughter/Please do not emulate or keep their company/Suffering beckons for the unwise child/Tears are due for the truant child/Work hard; time waits for no one”
How are we to work?
- Diligently. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” Col 3:23 Hard work should be done diligently with God in mind and not man. As we seek the favor of the Lord, we must always commit ourselves first to God. When we put Jesus at the center, everything else comes together — this includes our workplace activities. Scripture is full of encouragement to shun idleness, laziness and insolence. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” Prov 6:6 The diligent shall stand before kings! Work diligently my friend!
- With Integrity. Without ulterior motive. With sincerity of heart. Without eye service or hypocrisy. Labour with good conscience. Don’t steal don’t engage in corrupt practices.
- Division of labour. We must realize that we are born for different purposes. Just as the body cannot just be one part, so God made man to function in different areas of distinction and wisdom. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goes.” Eccl 9:10. Look at the church setting, find a department to work in your church. The gospel got to you due to chain of activities of labour but different people, prayer warriors, goes, givers, singers, usher etc
- By Faith and confidence. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Believe you can do something to help humanity. You are created for a purpose. God did not make anybody a liability, so don’t make yourself a liability. I once watched a video of an entrepreneur; he was into making aircrafts. He was asked “what did you study in college that motivate you to produce aircrafts -aeronautics”? He said he did not even finish college, he just took interest in it!
The Intersection of Labour and favour. Whereas labour is physical, favour is spiritual. You must have heard statements like a moment of favour is better than years of labour. The truth is you have power over labour but not over favour. Labour precedes favour. Favour enhances labour. There are people who are favored with beauty, intelligence, wisdom, photographic brain, there are some that struggle in those areas. There are things that are not within your control, only prayer and the outstretched arm of God bring them. For instance, you applied for a job, the posting was only for those with first class degrees. All the people that applied have all laboured to get their degrees but all cannot have it, favour will choose. When they were to choose a new queen for Ahaserus the qualification was beauty and virginity, which all that applied had but, favour chose Esther. “ And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.” Esther 2:17. So we go to church and pray to God for favour and do outside the church what needs to be done. A handsome man needs favour to find a good wife and vice versa. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord” Prov 18:22. So there is a place for labour in your life and a place for favour. Favour is not a replacement for labour. I pray that God shall give you favour to accomplish your designated labour that will propel you to succeed.
Examples of People that moved from labour to Success
- Isaac. Gen 26. Isaac wanted to repeat the mistake of his father when he experienced famine in Gerar. He wanted to run to Egypt as Abraham did. God warned him that there is no cheap life. Paraphrased is like God said “Success is not by running around, stay where you are, engage yourself in labour and see what I will do”. Isaac went to work digging wells, getting water to feed his flock and the bible said “When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. 13 He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow” Gen 26:12-13. In 2021 go and burry yourself in labour and smile to your bank at the end of the year. The time has come for the Philistines to envy us because of our industry and corresponding profitability and not the other way round
- Jesus. “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” Jn 5:17 You see the Trinity at work. God in creating the world worked. Gen 1. The Holy Spirit moved on the surface of the sea. Work is movement. Jesus worked by dying on the cross. Jesus did not just labour he command us to labour in soul winning and in prayers. “Therefore, said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” Lk 10:2
- Paul. “Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.” 1 Thes 2:9. “ But I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” ! Cor 15:10b
- Others. Everyone that God gave an assignment in the bible were people that were working. Moses was busy with his father in-law’s sheep when God called him to a higher work. Gideon was busy plowing when God called him to leadership. Similarly Elisha was a big-time farmer. Amos was a shepherd when God called him to be a prophet. Like Amos, of old Pastor Amos Dele Dada was a Chemical Engineer when God called me to evangelical work to practice Jesus Engineering. David, Peter, Matthew, Deborah were all busy when God called them to ministry.
From my heart.
I want this generation to develop the attitude afresh of dignity of labour. After pain is gain. Somehow, I feel this generation is losing it and we parents are largely responsible. We practically do everything for the children. We raise children that cannot cook or clean and think they are ready for marriage because they have first or second-degrees. To get this degree we spoon-fed them in various ways to secure it, some even encouraged them to cheat to get to that height. A generation of get rich quick. A generation where teenagers are not satisfied with clothes that do not carry expensive designers’ labels. At age twenty people want to buy the most expensive cars. Some people quit their jobs so that they will be on Employment Insurance. Some families forge papers, tell all manner of lies to remain on welfare, just because they don’t want to work. People kidnap others and ask for ridiculous ransom, some even kidnap themselves to extort money from relations! It is a generation of Yahoo, Yahoo, 419 Internet fraudsters and practitioners.
Opinion leaders, pastors, parents and ministers have a duty at this time to galvanize this generation to embrace hard work whether from the pulpit, market place or boardroom or corporate rooms. When political leaders steal the nation dry they are indirectly encouraging the younger generation not to work but wait for their turn to steal and be corrupt. When you build houses that are beyond your salary or wages you are sabotaging the spirt of hard labour. No doubt some celebrities work hard to make their money but the way they flaunt it is not just shameful but encourages people to be materialistic and get money at all cost without justifiable labour. If God gave you idea and you work hard to make wealth then create more wealth, establish manufacturing companies, start NGOs, employ people, help the less privileged to use their brain and brawn. Don’t just give fish, teach people to fish. Tar roads to your houses instead of riding expensive cars on untarred roads to your house ( I am not encouraging government not to be irresponsible). The pastors in particular should preach and teach on dignity of labour rather than prosperity messages that leaves the congregation in perpetual poverty.
The reward of labour.
The bible encourages labour because it has reward. “Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor”. Paul says “I labour more than you all”.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1Cor 15: 58. If you want to know why to keep on keeping on, the answer is the Resurrection. The Resurrection is what makes everything we do for the Lord worthwhile. Peter, one of the faithful workers of Jesus asked about their reward; “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. Mk 10:28-30
Conclusion. The time has come for us all to work and move to success. All convenience we enjoy like housing, clothing, technology, flying, driving name it, is because some people are working. Engage yourself in productive work. Embrace hard work and work smart. This month let the labour of your hand or brain move you to your height of success. See you at the top.