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A BIBLICAL VIEW OF WORK AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
FOR THE AFRICAN WORK ETHIC   
By Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa 
Wrong Attitudes toward Work

All men regardless of their cultural perspective have a sense, perhaps even a belief, that they ought to work. But not all men and cultures have the right view and/or attitude toward work. There are those who will not work because they have placed their hope in magic to do the work for them. Then there are those who are held back from working effectively by a culture of laziness and the lack of discipline. There are also those who define work in terms of work rate-that is to say the amount of time and energy they expend on a given job but without any reference to productivity. Before I entered the vocational pastoral ministry, I worked for a mining company in which several of my work mates spent a lot of time at work (many of them even worked overtime) but they all had very little or nothing to show for their labours. Although they were interested in the final pay, they were clearly not interested in contributing to bringing about the products that would guarantee their pay. There are also those who have selective respect for work. High level jobs are often more respected than lowly ones. As a matter of fact they don't consider the low paying, physical jobs as work. Finally, there are also those whose view of work amounts to workaholism, which places a high premium on acceptance of responsibility, hard work, commitment to duty and  productivity, and which also places work above where God would have it-essentially turning it into an idol, and defining  their identity by it. Workaholics would see work and productivity as ends in themselves. The first four outlooks so often find parallels in much of what we know as the African work ethic. The fifth one resonates with much in the Western and (some) Asian work ethics.

The Protestant and Biblical Work Ethic

All of the above mentioned attitudes to work are wrong. A more balanced view of work lies in what has sometimes been referred to as a Protestant and biblical work ethic. As a matter of fact the extent to which this ethic has been imbibed or rejected has been the extent to which a given cultural outlook on work has yielded economic and other dividends. But what is a biblical work ethic? There are four basic characteristics ingrained in it:

 a) It is an ethic that is rooted in and was modeled by God himself. God reveals himself to be a worker from the moment He reveals himself in history. The act of creating was work (Genesis 2:2), and so are the acts of providence and redemption. The Lord Jesus Christ who was also man,  demonstrated a commitment to work too.

b) It is the ethic God instituted along with the creation of Adam prior to the Fall. Work itself is included in the "very good" part of creation (Genesis 1:31). Adam as God's image was created to work. And so accordingly, in Genesis 2:15, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." At this point in time, work must have been something Adam really enjoyed. And the challenge of subduing the earth and having dominion over it is something he would have relished. It is interesting to note that work was created before money was of any significance or satisfying to human life; a number of Adam's tasks were of a type that would have been non-remunerative in an economic society (i.e. naming the animals, subduing the earth and companionship for his wife).

c) It is the ethic that was compromised when sin entered the world. After Adam sinned, his ability to work to his full potential was curtailed, work became toil (Genesis 3:17-19) and a means man could sometimes utilise to promote his own selfish interests. The toilsome nature of work began to breed sluggards, while the potential for material gain led to the breeding of many a workaholic and a greedy man.

d) It is the ethic that God has restored through the redemptive work of his dear Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ. The work of Christ in our souls, reignites the capacity and desire in our hearts  to glorify God in whatever they do, whether in eating or drinking (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Implications of Holding to a Biblical
Work Ethic on the African Work Ethic


The foregoing outlook on work provides the lens through which we can critique the above mentioned views on work as well as provide a basis upon which we can, even here in Africa, erect a new and progressive and God-honouring work culture. But what are the implications of holding to such a work ethic?

To start with, we will be driven by a passion to glorify God through imaging something of his nature as a worker. Furthermore, an understanding of the fact that the image of God in us, that was vitiated by the fall, and that has contributed to the entrenchment of sluggardness, a lack of self-belief and mediocrity in the African work culture, has been restored in Christ, should spur us to strive to rise above these vices in our endeavour, according to Henry Van Til (Hageman 1997:15), to superimpose upon nature, a secondary environment which at once serves the needs of man and also brings glory to God.

The other implication is that as African Christians we should work hard. Due to God's curse on the world because of human sin, it became necessary for man not merely to work but to work hard. Work is integral to life and has a way of giving us a sense of purpose, productivity, and dignity. Nobody respects a man who does not work. Hard work, under God, is the only chance we have in Africa to rid ourselves of poverty and shame. The books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contain some wise sayings regarding work. Proverbs 14:23 says, "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." Proverbs 6:6-11 says, "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man." These texts confirm a strong work ethic, while warnings are issued concerning slackness.

Talking about hard work, it is also important to note that the Bible does not condone workaholism. We do not work merely to amass worldly wealth (Matthew 6:19-34 warns about this). We work to bring glory to God. We also do not work ourselves into the ground or to the extent that our health is damaged or our families suffer. Another implication arising from imbibing a biblical work ethic is how it helps us approach work as God-given and therefore something we can take pleasure in. We can work cheerfully and without complaint because we are working for the Lord who loves us and has redeemed us.

The Place of Rest

Finally, God instituted the Sabbath at the beginning of creation. He did the work of creation for six days and then ceased. God is omnipotent; He did not need rest; He was setting an example for us. In the Ten Commandments, God confirmed both the importance of work and rest. "Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work" (Exodus 20:9-10a). Rest is a gift that we are wise to accept. So, while Christians are called to have a strong work ethic and to work hard at all that they do, they are also called to take times of rest.

Bibliography

1.David Bruce Hegeman, Plowing in Hope, Toward a Biblical Theology of Culture (Moscow ID: Cannon Press, 1999)

2.Henry R.Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic,1972)

3. Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in God's Image (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986)

INTERVIEW WITH MUSUNGA MWANSA  
By Lisa Turnbull 
 
 1. Tell us about your educational, work and ministry experience.
I have a Bachelors degree in Business Science from Monash University, where I have worked as a teaching assistant at the university and co-founded a bible study there called mighty Monashians.

2. How did you come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ?
I became a Christian at a youth camp that LBC hosts every year. Having grown up in a Christian home much of my life has been shaped by church culture. Camp, however, was a different experience. A group devotion in particular really pointed out how soaked in sin I was. How neither my folks, nor my experience could save me. Only Christ could. And He did. That morning.

3. What did you know about Christian education before learning of ACU?
Not much honestly. I hadn't really thought about the need to point education to the ultimate Educator and Creator. I didn't really mind the two being separated. Even the question "What does God have to do with mathematics", had never occurred to me. At best Christian education would immediately have meant a theological study of some sort.

4. How did you learn about ACU?
I first learned about ACU from LBC. The idea was introduced to the church, but quite frankly, I didn't pay it much attention. Like I said, I hadn't really thought about what a Christian education implies.

5. What are your responsibilities at ACU?
I am an administration assistant at ACU. My roles include project management for the 450 Campaign. In addition to this, I provide finance assistance to the accounting department as well as office related tasks.

6. How do you think ACU will impact the graduate and Zambia/Africa?
The Vision of ACU is profoundly ambitious. Lord willing, I believe the effect of ACU will lead to a fundamental redefining of the role of education. I believe that in the long run people will begin to work back education to what it was initially meant for. That is to understanding the world that God has put us in through the lens that Scripture gives us. Perhaps even more so I think Zambia/Africa will experience a paradigm shift in work ethic and worldview.

7. Is there anything else you would like to share about ACU?
I am often saddened at the lack of enthusiasm towards ACU. Many times I hear so many people express how terrible Zambian education is, how hopelessly godless it leans at higher levels and even how ill-equipped it is in preparing people (Christians especially) to navigate the world from a God-centred perceptive. And yet, it often seems to me that complaining is as far as we are willing to go. ACU is certainly God's answer to so many prayers and yet many view it as little more than a cute idea. WHY IS THIS? I worry so often that I will one day wake in a country where like many others, God is a sore topic met largely with disdain and contempt. ACU gives us the chance to make sure this doesn't happen here. How do we not see that?
  
SEEKING HELP

If God has gifted you as an artisan of excellence in any aspect of the construction trade, consider discipling colleagues and students with ACU. Please contact us if you believe God is calling you to serve His kingdom
wor
k in this way. Email: inf o@ac u-zambia.com












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By sponsoring a student, you can make a direct investment in his or her life and future. Equipped with a degree from ACU, our graduates will be better able to care for their families, and as ambassadors for Christ, to revitalise their communities for the glory of God. A one-year sponsorship can help ensure that a student succeeds at ACU and ultimately graduates. Any amount will help make a difference.  

* Pray for the students taking exams as they finish up this term.

* Pray for God's saving grace at work in the lives of the Scholars Programme students who are shifting from ACU to their sponsoring organisation's programme.

* Pray for the students remaining in the Scholars Programme to have a good break and return rested.

* Pray for the faculty and staff as they go without a break to initiate an intensive Scholars Programme to get the newly enrolled students caught up with those remaining.

* Pray for the incoming group of Scholars Programme students as they adjust to the very heavy course work load of the 2 week intensive Term 1 programme.

* Pray for the Zambian ACU Board in completing the ACU Constitution.


* We are thankful for the support of the local churches in this reenrollment process, particularly those individuals who have offered sponsoring support of students.

*  Praise God for a local Zambian company, Precision Farming under Mr. Ken Bowker, for their sponsorship of a Scholars Programme student and a Degree Programme student at ACU.

* We thank God for the students that have applied in such short order to allow continuing on with the 2017 Scholars Programme.

* We are grateful to the members of the Zambian ACU Board for helping with the process of hiring a new accountant.

* Thanks to all of you for faithfully praying for the many challenges that ACU traverses. This ministry would not be possible without you!

 
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A Letter From Kabwata