This is a continued exploration of ideas from the book Spiritual Economics by Eric Butterworth. I discussed the ideas from Chapter 5, “The Grateful Heart” here. Now, we will explore Chapter 6, “Work and the Success Syndrome”.
So, to answer the title question — if you are only working for the money you receive, you are underpaid! This is not your employer’s fault, it is YOURS! Because you haven’t recognized that life is a growth process, and we grow by giving. Work is an opportunity for you to grow and fulfill the divine dream that created you. Butterworth says, “Let your work, whatever it may involve, be an outworking of the divine flow, engaged in through the sheer joy of fulfilling your divine nature.”
So, your reward for work should include an expanded consciousness! To quote Butterworth, “Your prosperity will always be a reflection of your consciousness, the degree to which your thoughts are centered in divine flow…The work in the job is the means by which you build a consciousness of giving, which in turn gives rise to an outworking or “receiving flow.” The divine flow in which your thoughts should be centered is the abundance of creative ideas and prospering beliefs, which lead to a growth in consciousness. The “receiving flow” will follow by the spiritual law of giving and receiving.
Kahlil Gibran said, “If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, then you should quit your job and go sit in the temple and beg alms from those who work with joy.” It is all about consciousness, your attitude at and about work. Butterworth relates a story of a man who was passed over for a promotion by a person of far less experience. He complained to his employer, “Why, I have twenty-five years of experience on this job.” The wise employer replied, “That’s not quite correct. You have had one year of experience repeated twenty-five times!” He had been content with a basic level of proficiency because he didn’t recognize the opportunities to grow at work. Butterworth says, “There is no job with a future in it; the future is in the one who does the job.”
Butterworth points out three trends in our society that may have caused the depression in work attitudes. The first is an increase in specialization. Few people are now able to take raw materials and work to see the finished product from their own hands. This can tend to remove the natural sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a job or building a product. This reminds me of the story of two bricklayers who were working on the same project. When the first was asked what he was doing, he replied, “I am laying bricks for ten hours a day to be able to provide food and shelter for my poor family.” When the second one was asked, he instead replied, “I am helping to build a cathedral, so that generations to come will have a beautiful place to worship God!” Therefore, it is still possible to get a sense of reward from a project where you are only providing a small part, if you keep your eye on the big picture and the value of the total project.
The second trend leading to work depression is also caused by a focus on money as the only reward for work. This leads to people “job-hopping”, quitting jobs they may like for one they don’t but which pays more. This often leads to slipshod work, doing the minimum to get by, calling in sick to get a day off, maybe even fudging on their timesheet. Butterworth says, “They may get away WITH it; but they can never get away FROM it.” They have turned their job into a prison or living hell by focusing on what they get from work, instead of what they can give.
And the third trend that causes work to be depressing is related – people caught up in acquiring and consuming. They have to have a nicer house or get the latest gadget and so always need more money to buy these things. This often drives people to work two jobs or very long hours at one job, leading to total burnout after several years. This is the “rat race” that many have described. It is often caused by one of two issues: a low self-esteem that causes a need to “keep up with the Joneses” in order to prove their self worth OR a deep “hole” inside them that they are trying to fill with material goods, when in reality it is a longing for a deeper spiritual connection.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said,” No matter what your work, let it be your own. No matter what your occupation, let what you are doing be organic. Let it be in your bones. In this way, you will open the door by which the affluence of heaven and earth shall stream into you.” And from Kahlil Gibran, “When you work you fulfill part of earth’s furthest dream, Assigned to you when that dream was born, And in keeping yourself with labor you are in truth loving life, And to love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.”
Remember, to achieve true success and happiness, it’s not important that you HAVE more; you must BE more. This is the “hole” that you instinctively are trying to “fill”. Prosperity is all about your consciousness; it represents not just your financial wealth, but your physical, emotional, and spiritual wealth as well. As written earlier, life is about growth and we grow through giving. Giving means service and all work is an opportunity to serve. When you serve, you will grow and you will receive. But you must focus on the growing and the giving, NOT the receiving, if you want to be prosperous and happy!