Dark Brightness

Bleak Theology: Hopeful Science

We are to work.

This is a separate post from the Madvent one.  And to start with one of the more geeky things son one and I did yesterday. We balanced the US budget. Fairly easily — if I did the NZ tricks of removing all deductions (none for your mortgage, local taxes, the lot) and bought in GST and let the US fall off the fiscal cliff I ended up with a billion surplus or so.

If we did this, of course, people would lose their state benefits and have to work. Now, this is not a bad thing. In fact, we are commanded to work. Harshly.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

6Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. 9This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. 11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

14Take note of those who do not obey what we say in this letter; have nothing to do with them, so that they may be ashamed. 15Do not regard them as enemies, but warn them as believers.

16Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.

17I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the mark in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

What are the implications of this? Particularly when we are in tight economic times — the security of our jobs is uncertain.  Here are some thoughts.

  • Qualifications matter. Unfortunately, this society relies on credentials. It is thus useful to get your children trained in a trade. (Professions such as nursing and medicine or teaching count as trades for this discussion). This should be done as cheaply as possible. The most effective systems of tertiary education do not try to have elite universities but all universities at subelite level. In medicine and in Australasia at lest, it really does not matter where your MB is from: what matters is what your specialist qualification is. A decade in, no one, anywhere, cares where you got your basic degree from.
  • Diversify. Have multiple income streams, even if small. Do contract work. Monetize your blog. Teach music lessons, or rhetoric.
  • Keep your CV up to date and productive, if a professional. In academia, you should be adding new research outcomes at the accepted rate (which varies by discipline). In trades, attend your trade meeting. Network. The firm that employs you may fail and you may need work.
  • Consider running a business (income stream) particularly if (as in NZ) you can set up a corporate structure cheaply and quickly.
  • Have someone play defence, who keeps a budget, gardens, cuts coupons, executes plans, and ensures that the household cashflow is positive. Many homeschooling mums in the US have this down to a fine art.
  • Don’t retire. My father, who is eighty, no longer builds houses or sells things. But he still breeds cattle and is a relieving teacher (teaches when the main pedagogue is ill).

If we work. we can ensure another eats. However, if we think it is our right to live on the charity of others, we are not only destroying the work of the church, but we are also giving room to the sins of the hipster — gossip, a descent into the trivial, and ennui.

So work. It’s good for you.