Development and civilization is the quest of every nation under the sun. This quest has apparently created a dichotomy in our world. Today there are countries that are known to be the advanced countries of the world while others are known as developing nations. This divide has led to no small amount of devastation, havoc, ruin and wreckages, both in developing countries and in the First World countries. HOW TO BECOME A DEVELOPED NATION THROUGH DIGNITY OF LABOR.
As many as 700 immigrants were reported drowned in the Mediterranean, just outside Libyan waters, in what is the worst disaster yet involving migrants being smuggled to Europe.
This is the news report that recently went all over the world, as the world stood in shock of what could be the reason driving so many young Africans into an early death under such terrible circumstances. That brings the total number of deaths in under similar circumstances to 1500 migrants en route to Europe in the first quarter of 2015.
A week earlier, in a similar incident, another 400 young Africans lost their lives in their quest for a better life. As big as this number might seem to us, the scope of disaster could have been much more wider. The Italian rescue operation reportedly rescued 100,000 lives of young Africans that could have perished under similar circumstances.
What is driving these young, vibrant, energetic African men from different countries of Africa to so desperately risk their lives? That might be a question to the Europeans or First World nations, but to us Africans it is an obvious question that demands no answer. Every African hypothetically would understand what is driving these young men to desperately want to move to Europe.
On the other side of the world, the United States of America is facing an ongoing battle to secure her borders from another group of young, vibrant, energetic illegal immigrants. Only this time not from Africa, but from Latin American countries.
What do these two groups of young men in the Libyan Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico have in common? The answer is obvious, they all want to escape the life of abject poverty in their underdeveloped nations and move onto a dreamed and superlative lifestyle in the advanced nations of the world.
As a result of this quest for a better lifestyle in advanced nations of the world, Africa keeps losing some of her most promising children. Is there anything that could be done? Yes, no doubt there is!
In my opinion, one of the answers to the question of underdevelopment of nations including my country Nigeria, is in the CULTURE of DIGNITY OF LABOR.
DIGNITY OF LABOR indicates that all types of jobs are respected equally, and no occupation is considered superior. Though, one’s occupation for his or her livelihood involves physical work or menial labor, it is held that the job carries dignity, compared to the jobs that involve more intellect than body.
One of the major contributions of the Protestant faith to the world is the culture of dignity of labor. At the time Martin Luther, John Calvin and other leaders of the Protestant reformation started their works of reformation in Europe, Europe was as backward and as underdeveloped as most countries in Africa are today.
Some of the countries we have now come to respect in Europe like Germany and England, were so backward and underdeveloped that Germans were known as lazy drunks who despised any form of hard work. In England, things were so bad that the streets of London had homeless people everywhere dying of poverty, prostitution, alcoholism without any hope of things ever getting better.
“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” –John Carmack
When the Protestant preachers began delivering their extremely fiery messages in the churches and in the streets of Europe, one of their main focus in preaching was called the dignity of labor. Which entailed the following facts;
1. Everybody must get a job.
2. All jobs must be respected, because they are being done unto God.
3. By working we become coworkers with God.
4. Work is a form of service to God.
5. No occupation is considered superior since everyone is doing his best where he is.
6. You need to work even if it is a menial or dirty job, because every job is participating in the process of creation.
7. Everybody must work even if you are not working for money. You must work to actualize yourself.
“He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes.” rich. Proverbs 10:4
What did the concept of dignity of labor do to Europe and what can it do to Africa today? What this very commendable efforts of preachers did to Europe is that:
1. It took people off the street.
2. People were taught that they were created by God and they themselves must become creators like God.
3. There came a respect and dignity for work.
4. People began to understand that wealth and success is not a matter of luck.
5. Superstition regarding work and wealth was broken. Everybody now knew that wealth comes only from hard work, not from some superstitious beliefs.
6. The society was taught to respect all workers.
7. Each worker no matter the level, knows he is participating in the process of creation with God hence the dignity.
8. Every worker knows that by working, he is releasing the nature of God in him. He is becoming creative just like God is creative.
9. In the process, factories and industries began to spring up all over the place.
10. It led to industrial revolution with 75% of inventions and discoveries being credited to Protestants who were taught in the culture of dignity of labor.
I believe that for Nigeria and other third world countries to truly become developed, we must change the culture and attitude of our people towards work. In my observations, I see that the culture that is prevalent right now in Nigeria and indeed Africa is the culture of GET RICH QUICK.
“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything.” ― Vince Lombardi
What the culture of get rich quick does to our people is:
1. Young men only wish to do prestigious work.
2. Our young people look for quick answers and solutions.
3. People want to get something for nothing.
4. They look down at people who are engaged in manual labor.
5. Fraudulent money schemes are prevalent in the society
6. Armed robbery, theft becomes the order of the day.
7. People don’t believe that hard work is worth it.
8. People begin to think that there is no natural process to success, hence the fraudulent nouveau riche (swindlers, drug pushers, 419 scammers etc.) begin to become respected in the society
9. People forget that they have to create their wealth in their nation. They rather think they must be given.
10. The escapist mentality becomes prevalent, giving birth to the syndrome of economic refugees.
“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” Proverbs 13:4
What the new government of Nigeria and other African governments must do, is to start a massive reorientation campaign in the culture of the dignity of labor. We must bring back dignity to hard work. Our people must once again realize that it is only hard work and excellence that leads to wealth creation.
“Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase.” Proverbs 13:11
It must once again become a common knowledge to our people that it is only the wealth that we create that we can share. From our primary schools to secondary schools, to tertiary institutions, there must be a mass campaign to educate our people in the value of labor.
“In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:24
Every major outward change must first begin in the mind. So for us to expect development in our nations, we must first bring development to the minds and understandings of our people. The change we quest for outwardly must first be attained inwardly.
One destructive mindset that must be altered in our society is the thought that work is a curse. Some people advocate that if you are truly blessed you don’t need to work hard. Because as they say “the race is not to the swift”, I even had statements like “a day of favor is better than a thousand years of labor”. To make things worse, this type of teachings are actually coming from our pulpits. We call ourselves Protestants, but we have totally departed from the teachings of the early Protestants. Martin Luther, John Wesley and John Calvin would turn in their graves, if they hear the kind of teachings we are now feeding the people of God with.
While they, the early Protestants focused on forming the nature of God in people, the Protestants of today are focused on gratifying the needs of the people. As a result of their teachings, the early Protestants created a new society that we now refer to as developed and advanced countries. It is the descendants of these early European Protestants that later scattered throughout the surface of the earth. Everywhere they went, they took the same message and culture of dignity of labor with them.
As a result, these Protestants that moved to Australia, brought about quick and accelerated growth and development. When they went to America with the same work ethic and culture of dignity of labor, America quickly became a developed and advanced nation.
The descendants of these early Protestants took this same culture to South Africa, New Zealand, and everywhere they went. They were able to replicate the same work ethic that resulted in growth and development.
It must be noted however, that there were other Europeans that traveled to other parts of the earth, but because they did not take with them the same Protestant culture of dignity of labor, they did not record the same level of success, growth and development as the early Protestant immigrants had done.
Examples of these other Europeans that moved from their continent to other continents is the immigration from Spain to Latin American countries. They took with them the Catholic culture. As a result those countries are still developing countries till today. IT IS THE CULTURE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE. When there is no internal transformation, there cannot be external progress and development whatsoever.
Other Europeans that moved from the mainland Europe were Portuguese, one of the richest countries along with Spain those days, yet because their descendants did not have the same culture of dignity of labor as in the Protestant countries, the Portuguese could not bring about development to Brazil and other Portuguese speaking nations. IT IS THE CULTURE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.
Even today in modern Europe, it is a known fact that the most developed countries are the countries with the Protestant tradition. While the dominantly Catholic nations like Spain, Italy, Portugal are less developed.
What I am trying to say is, we must change the minds of our people towards positively relating to work, labor, etc. Our government, media houses, schools, must focus on creating a new culture in our society. A culture of work. A culture of labor. A culture of diligence. A culture of hard work. A culture of perseverance. A culture of persistence. A culture of DIGNITY OF LABOR.
“I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.” Proverbs 24:30-31
Finally, let me quickly outline the benefits that right attitude to work would bring to our people and nations. People must be taught that money is not the most important benefit of work. Work indeed has many more benefits than money.
1. We work to firstly realize our hidden potentials. Work therefore is the paramount key to discovering yourself. God has hidden in each and every one of us so many abilities, gifts and resources that could only be activated by work.
2. We work to discover and release the potential of the earth around us. God in his infinite wisdom has deposited in everything the potential for growth and multiplication. There is worth everywhere and in everything we see. Work therefore is designed to release all this abundance of wealth hidden inside everything. For example, it is only by work we extract gold from the soil. It takes work to discover the oil that is already deposited in the ground. It is work that turns a hill of coal into karats of diamond.
3. Work is given to us by God as an instrument to multiply resources. Everything God created was created in a seed form, small and miniature. It takes work to increase and multiply every resource we see around us.
4. Work is the divine provision God has given to every man through which we can all provide for our needs, for the needs of our families and others.
5. God gave us the grace and ability to work, because it is only through work we can resolve national issues.
6. Work gives us access and opportunities. Our young men and women must be taught that through hard work, they can create opportunities for themselves and others.
7. God told us to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth. The only instrument that is given to all men equally to do this is work.
8. God only gives men power to make wealth, meaning God does not give wealth, he gives the power to work for it. (Deut. 8:18)
9. Through work, we serve, minister, and become God’s stewards on the earth.
10. Work must not just be physical, we must teach our people that work is both mental, spiritual and physical. All works bring profit. Meaning true work will facilitate the development and advancement of any nation or people.
“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough.” Proverbs 28:19
If our governments in Africa take this message seriously, we could actually end up building our own nations to become developed and advanced just like any other country in the First World. We will need to introduce the culture of DIGNITY OF LABOR to our societies. That way our young people will no longer keep on risking their precious lives in the Mediterranean ocean, in an attempt to find a better life in the so called developed countries.
“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29
Whatever any nation has done, could be easily replicated if we know the principles and the secrets behind it. That is why I have decided to share this principle of dignity of labor with my nation Nigeria, countries in Africa and other developing nations of the world.
If Nigeria and Africa, Mexico and Latin America, and other developing countries are to stop losing their best sons to the disaster of tragic deaths in places like the Mediterranean ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, then we must take this message seriously. It is my prayer that the governments of these countries would take a serious look at this topic and implement the principle so as to lead their nations to growth and economic prosperity.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHURCH AND NATION
By Pastor Sunday Adelaja.