Validation and workaholism
"Validation." It's a popular term used to describe a person's efforts to gain self-worth. When that person meets an inwardly defined goal, then he has "validated" himself.
To some, validation comes through successful business deals; others find it through physical labors tackled and completed; still others find it through teaching and helping those in need.
But there are people who work hard to achieve a feeling of worth, only to feel unsatisfied when the work is over. They then work harder to achieve still more, but often feel again that strange twinge of emptiness afterward. What then? Why, more work, new projects, larger aims. And so goes the cycle known as "workaholism."
At this point, we might well ask -- as did the writer of Ecclesiastes -- "What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?" n1
n1 Ecclesiastes 3:9.
Can the answer to "more worth" be simply "more work"? In fact, can self-worth be measured effectively just in material terms? In the Bible we can find clear evidence that God created each one with eternal spiritual worth. In the book of Matthew, Christ Jesus relates a parable about a man who hires laborers to work in his fields. Though some of the laborers work hard all day, and some work only about an hour, the employer pays them all equal wages. n2
n2 See Matthew 20:1-16.
Though present-day labor-management negotiators would probably not use this parable as a model for contract talks, it certainly does have its spiritual lessons. One lesson we can draw from Jesus' words is that each laborer was worthy of his hire because of who he was, not because of when he had come to the field. His worth was an inherent quality, recognized in his sonship with God.
So it is with you and me. Our validation is as unachievable as it is undeniable. Unachievable? Yes, because self-worth is ours inherently. God in His great love has made us sons and daughters. We are in reality His immortal ideas. The fact that we are worthy is undeniable because of the inevitability of God's expressing Himself in His image, man.
Of course, these facts do not mean that we should rob ourselves of the joy of working hard and seeing the fruits of work emerge. In fact, hard work in response to God's will is essential. But we can understand that it is our God-given worth that is the basis of satisfaction rather than just the work itself.
What is it that is "worthy" in our relationship with God? God is perfect and good and complete in His own being, and He expresses Himself in all His creation in just these terms -- perfection, goodness, and completeness. Though there will be necessary lessons for us to learn before we fully understand God, we can know that these qualities exist now -- our goodness, perfection, and completeness -- because God exists now. They ensure our worth here, today.
The worth we feel from God grows deeper as the unselfed character of our work and living grows deeper. Whatever our goal -- building something useful, making more money to support a family, winning a friend, running five miles -- it can be done to the glory of God, as an expression of His intelligence and strength. Working for work's sake is really self-absorption. Mary Baker Eddy n3 writes, "Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness; conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can." n4
n3 Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n4 Message to The Mother Church for 1902,m p. 17.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all seek proof of our own worth. We can find it as it exists now -- "through His tenure" -- in the loving God. Then we are like genuine currency: we can do what we do because we are validated. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel. Ruth 2:12