The implications of Fake Work

My friends over at JRoller Online Book Reviews have posted my review of Brent D. Peterson & Gaylan W. Nielson’s excellent book, Fake Work.

In a nutshell, the purpose of the book is to reveal the reality of the working world—that much of the work we do has nothing to do with the goals of our companies—and provide us with the means to turn work culture around.

From the original review, fake work is defined as:

Quite simply, it is any work that we do that fails to align with the goals of our companies, organizations, churches, and families. It’s the work that we do that steals our time & energy, and destroys our morale. The authors refer to it as “the road to nowhere” – as though you’re building a road on a mountainside leading to the site of your new cabin; you’ve moved rocks, filled the roadbed and faced the oppressive heat and the punishing cold. But you’ve moved ahead, confident in your understanding of the surveyor’s plans. But, as you weave and wind around the landscape, you find yourself at the end of the road, staring down from the edge of a cliff.

That, in essence is fake work. A great deal of effort expended, resources committed, but none of it matters, because it doesn’t get you where you need to go.

Pretty scary isn’t it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept and the implications it has for all of us, and for Christians within the workplace in particular.

There are a lot of new books coming out discussing work culture—what works, what doesn’t, what needs to change. Most are coming to the same conclusion: How we work and how we define success is broken and needs to change. We need to stop evaluating the appearance of work, and instead begin evaluating the results of that work.

The typical job is defined by a 40 hour work week. You’re at your desk, your station, for eight hours, less your 30 minute lunch break, every day. But what if your job doesn’t take that long to do?

What do you do then?

Well, I know a lot of us find busy work to do. We do whatever we can to look busy, because we don’t want to be seen as not working hard.

But is that really working hard? If we’re spending more time blogging or watching YouTube videos, simply because we have to fill an eight hour day, can we really say that we’re doing the best job we can?

Are we worshipping God in our work?

Scripture tells us that we are to work hard; that “whatever [we] do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” says Colossians 3:23. For many of us, fake work and a work culture based on time instead of results actually inhibit our ability to fulfill this commandment from Scripture.  They don’t encourage us to work their hardest at our jobs, to see work as worship.

This is because there is no value in what we do.

If we know that a report we’re working on isn’t going to be read, nor are our ideas going to be implemented, we don’t want to bring anything to the table. If we know that it doesn’t matter how quickly we get our tasks done because the appearance of work is more important than the results, we don’t really work as for the Lord. We actually are working for men—for their approval and for their standards.

So here’s the big question: Are you willing to draw a line in the sand—to say “no more” to fake work and instead only do work that actually brings value to your company?

Are you prepared to transform the working world and really see your job as an act of worship?

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