The value of hard work

IN one popular song entitled ‘Work‘ by a talented Nigerian musician, Adekunle Gold, people are encouraged to work hard. This is just as God’s Inspired Word, The Bible, says at Ecclesiastes Chapter 9, Verse 10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might . . . “Work – whether paid or unpaid, is good for our health and well-being. It contributes to our happiness, helps us to build confidence and self-esteem, and can reward us financially. Work is an essential tool through which individuals can achieve their goals, flourish, and live happy, meaningful lives.

However, there are many issues seriously affecting work and workers in Nigeria today. They include the issues of unemployment, poor remuneration/wages, poor working environment and conditions, casualisation of workers, among others. Many people experience poverty and unemployment through no fault of their own. Many who are able to work, willing to work hard, and even actively searching for work, are still unable to find work – they are unemployed!

Unemployment and poverty are two of the major issues currently affecting Nigeria’s economy and its society. In fact, according to the National Bureau of Statistics’, NBS, data on unemployment, it was discovered that unemployment increased in Nigeria from 21 million in 2018, to 23 million in 2019. Nigeria has also been ranked as the nation with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty, with 93.7 million people measured to be living on less than $1.90 (N684 at the time) per day, by June 2019. This is disheartening, and calls for urgent measures to be put in place, in order to reduce the high rate of unemployment and poverty in the country.

Nevertheless, despite the high rate of unemployment, the situation is not necessarily hopeless.

People can still find some meaningful work to engage in, even though it may be small. If you are unemployed, or cannot find a job in your area of particular interest, it is wise to consider looking for a job in other areas, even if the job is considered ‘menial’ by the standards of some people. Do not allow false pride to let you look down on a job – as beneath your dignity. Any legitimate service that can benefit others, and that people are willing to pay for, can be considered as an alternative job opportunity when jobs are scarce.

People differ in terms of many characteristics such as intelligence, talents, academic levels, etc. Therefore depending on human potential and the specific working environment, work can be equally beneficial to the person or demeaning.

For example, prostitution, gambling, and drug dealing constitute work, as you get a kind of remuneration for the service you provide. But the money you get out of these kinds of work becomes useless, as it neither contributes to human flourishing, nor is the basis of a meaningful life. Work should be the key to human survival and flourishing, and not to degradation of the individual and his moral values.

On the other hand, no matter how honest, working from dawn to sunset does not make your life flourish either. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” goes the popular saying. Workaholics, the people whose only purpose in life is work, impinge themselves from other activities. Productive work is not an end-in-itself, but a means of flourishing. If one pursues productive work to the exclusion of everything else in one’s life, so that it becomes one’s only purpose in life, this will undermine one’s flourishing. On the other hand, those who keep their life balanced are likely to enjoy their work even more.

So, whether your work is mostly mental, mostly physical, or somewhere in between, recognize that there is benefit in every kind of hard work. Hard work helps us to care for our material needs. Moreover, it contributes to our self-respect.

After all, hard work is just that – hard. When we discipline ourselves to stick with our work – even if it seems boring or difficult – we can have the satisfaction of knowing that we held ourselves to a high standard. We have won the victory over the inclination to take the easy way out. In that sense, work brings an intense feeling of satisfaction.

God wants us to enjoy our work. The inspired words of wisdom by King Solomon of ancient Israel, recorded for us in The Bible Book of Ecclesiastes, especially in Chapter 2, Verse 24, and in Chapter 5, Verse 18, shows that God wants us to enjoy the fruitage, or reward, of our hard work. “With a man there is nothing better than that he should . . . see good because of his hard work.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).

Ighakpe, a social commentator, wrote viad [email protected]

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