Dorothy Sayers, a contemporary of C.S. Lewis, wrote a penetrating essay entitled Why Work? published as a chapter in the volume Creed or Chaos? Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster (Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe). Tim Keller referred to Sayers in his sermon on work (about which I previously posted). Sayers writes:
What is the Christian understanding of work? I should like to put before you two or three propositions arising out of the doctrinal position which I stated at the beginning: namely, that work is the natural exercise and function of man — the creature who is made in the image of his Creator…..The first, stated quite briefly, is that work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God.
Sayers goes on to argue that remuneration should not be the driving force for our labor, but rather love of the work itself. Therefore, people should do what they are “fitted” to do. In addition, she argues:
We should no longer think of work as something that we hastened to get through in order to enjoy our leisure; we should look on our leisure as the period of changed rhythm that refreshed us for the delightful purpose of getting on with our work.
Sayers adds that we should “clamor to be engaged in work that was worth doing, and in which we could take pride.”
On a related theme, I’ve previously published an article on vocation and one on leisure.
Note: I first posted this in November 2009, but found the Sayers chapter online and decided to re-post it.