Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Benefits & Responsibilty Go Together

By GuestBug: Dr. Terry Dorsett

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I was chatting with a young man the other day. He wanted some money and was hoping that he could get some help from the state, from his relatives and from the church. He was a perfectly able bodied young man, quite capable of earning a living in a variety of ways. But he was not a morning person, so he did not want to have to get up early. He did not care for physical labor, so he did not want a job that required sweating. He had a whole list of reasons why he did not want to work at any jobs that were currently available in the area. After listening to him awhile, I politely declined his request for assistance.

We live in a world in which everyone wants all the benefits of a free modern prosperous society, but no one wants the responsibilities that go with it. Each spouse wants a happy marriage, but the both expect the other spouse to do most of the work. Parents want good kids, but expect the teacher at school to produce them. Everyone wants to have lots of money in their pocket, but they do not want to have to work too many hours to produce it. People want to have health care, but they do not want to pay for it. We have become a society that expects a lot but lacks the desire to put forth the effort to make those benefits happen.

This same sense of entitlement spills over into the church. People want a church that will meet all their needs, but they expect someone else to teach the Sunday School classes, watch the nursery, print the bulletin, clean the bathrooms, preach the sermons, give the money, lead the music, prepare the refreshments and lead all the weekday programs. But that is simply an unrealistic expectation. There is no such thing as benefits without responsibility.

As a society, we need to rediscover the value of working hard to achieve our goals. We need to stop expecting someone else to do all the hard work while we reap the rewards. This is not a new concept. The Apostle Paul talked about this in 2 Thessalonians 2:10, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” and in Galatians 6:5, “for each one should carry his own load.” It may be an age old concept, but a new generation needs to learn it or our society may endure much longer.


  1. Thank you for contributing to JuneBugTalk, Dr. Terry!

    My observations:

    I was almost with you until this part: "we need to rediscover the value of working hard to achieve our goals. We need to stop expecting someone else to do all the hard work while we reap the rewards."

    I'm pretty sure all the people I know work hard, harder than they need to in fact. Not to make a sweeping generalization, but I notice as I get older that all the folks I know work so hard that they don't even know when/how to take a break. I actually had non-American friends tell me: "Americans work too hard. You people need to relax more." Seriously.

    This brings me to your illustration of the young man. You mention that he was opposed to physical labor. Is that such a problem? Just because he his capable of physical labor, he should submit to that, even if it is not his desire. There are different types of labor: he might have more an affinity for intellectual and artistic labor, which is no less valuable than physical labor. Why must an individual be considered lazy because he/she is opposed to physical labor, because he seeks government assistance? Artists and writers live off government grants all the time (and sleep till noon), rather than hold steady physical labor job because to do so would infringe upon and inhibit their real work: art. And they manage to obtain some success. Traditional (physical labor, 9-5) jobs aren't meant for everyone.

    Now, I don't know if the boy considered himself an artistic sort or an intellectual (thus interested in those types of jobs/labor), but I do know that it is somewhat fallacious to consider him lazy simply based off of the fact that he is opposed to physical labor or doesn't like mornings. Although I'm in law school at the moment, I am a writer and I know what it's like to be a writer (to, in other words, be considered jobless and lazy because you don't have a "real job" in the eyes of outsiders, even though you yourself know that you do have a job, an exhausting one at that, that doesn't pay well: writing). I faced the prospect of a leading a writer's life before I decided to go to law school: as a result, while I'll always be a writer, I'll also have a "real job."

  2. (cont'd)

    I just wanted to present this hypothetical scenario in order to question your assumption about the boy.

    To end my long-winded response, I want to add that I do agree that hard work is necessary. I'm pretty sure a person will not be able to come close to achieving his/her goals if he/she doesn't put in some real effort and work. But just because it doesn't look like a person is working hard doesn't mean the person isn't working hard: it's really difficult to discern from the outside how hard a person is working. I've accused people of not working hard enough (because they couldn't get or keep a job, or keep up their grades, or get things done on time) only to find out that this person was honestly putting forth their best effort or that this person was really working through a personal matter and was doing their absolute best to handle the situation and to succeed. Hard work and personal success is never a black or white topic.

  3. Just because he his capable of physical labor, he should submit to that, even if it is not his desire. *I meant to make that a question.*

  4. Miss Berneta,

    Thanks for your excellant observations.

    You are correct that many people work at jobs that do not require physical labor (myself included!!) But everyone should have some kind of job, doing something. Yes, some may temporarily be in school, etc and have to be supported by others, but the idea that others should carry them indefinately is just not healthy.

    You are also correct that some people prefer to sleep till noon. That's fine, there are many second shift jobs that will let a person do that very thing. We also need a few night owls willing to work those overnight shifts too, so there is a place for everyone.

    I can even accept the fact that a few people do not want to work at all and they would prefer to lay around and do nothing all day long and all night long. That is fine if that is how they want to live their lives. But they should not expect someone else who does work hard to pay for things for them. They would need to accept the fact that their lifestyle choice of not working would also be a choice for poverty. If they like living that way, that is their business. But the point I was trying to make was that if they want all the things they see others with, they will need to go get a job just like everyone else.

    And by "things" I do not just mean physical items, I also mean a good marriage, good kids, a nice church, etc. If we want to have those intangible things, we will have to put effort into building a good marriage, raising good kids and having a nice church to go to. We get out of life what we put into it.

    Sadly, there is a growing number of people who want to get a lot out of life but put very little into it. And our culture is straining under the weight of that growing group. We have to kindly, but firmly, get that group to re-engage or our society will not long endurre.