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Getting Work Right (Re-air)

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
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September 12, 2022 8:30 am

Getting Work Right (Re-air)

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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September 12, 2022 8:30 am

This week on Family Policy Matters, we are re-airing a show from December 2019 with Dr. Michael Naughton, discussing his book, Getting Work Right: Labor and Leisure in a Fragmented World. Dr. Naughton shares how our culture often has a fundamental misunderstanding of “leisure” and how we need both work and leisure to live full lives.

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Welcome to Family Policy Matters, an engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina Family Policy Council. Hi, this is John Rustin, President of NC Family, and we're grateful to have you with us for this week's program. It's our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on Family Policy Matters, and that you will feel better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation. And now here is our host of Family Policy Matters, Tracey Devette Griggs. Thank you for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters.

I think we could all agree that if someone said we were a hard worker, that would be a compliment. But I wonder how many of us realize how important it is to be good at leisure. Well, today's guest says those two things, work and leisure, are vitally connected. Dr. Michael Naughton has written a book about this. It's called Getting Work Right, Labor and Leisure in a Fragmented World. Well, Dr. Naughton, welcome to Family Policy Matters. This sounds like it's going to be fun. Well, I'm looking forward to it, Tracey.

Thanks for having me. Well, before we get to the leisure part, let's talk a little bit about some of the fundamental questions as to why does work matter to the human person and the human experience? I think most of us intuitively know this, but we're made to work. There's a Latin phrase, homo favor, man the maker.

And this is why when people win the lottery and they quit work, they're often usually not happy and they're not happier. And it's actually why the church has always been concerned and other organizations have been concerned about unemployment because often not to have work causes some serious issues. And key to that is that we're made in the image of a God who's a creator, right? We have a command to subdue and have dominion of the earth and the gifts and the talents and the abilities we have help us to develop who we are in the exercising of those gifts. One last point on this is a term which I find very helpful called the subjective dimension of work. And that when we work, we not only change things outside of us, but we simultaneously change things inside of us. And so the question for us is, what are we changing into in the work that we do? And that, I think, is one of the key reasons why it's so important. Well, that is actually important. So the idea that our work is transforming us.

Do you want to talk a little bit more about that? Because that seems like a very interesting concept. It's one of the major insights that we have to kind of recognize, because for many of us, we don't see the changes in terms of what work is doing to us.

Think about it this way. All of us are evaluated in terms of the objective changes. If we don't get more students, if we don't have greater financial viability, if we don't increase our productivity, we get evaluated on it.

We'll get incentivized, we get rewarded. If we don't do it, we feel it and things of that sort. And so we have this kind of checklist about what we can do and how we can prove outside.

But we don't often have this checklist inside. And that's why the kind of reflective manager, the reflective worker, the contemplative worker is so important. Because if I'm not reflecting on what work is doing, and particularly what it's infecting me, I wake up 20 years down the road and said, what happened?

How did I get here? Right. And I think this seems like a much different way of looking at work, because especially for some believers who might say, hey, I just work to pay the bills, and then I'm doing my ministry and working out my faith outside of the office. But that doesn't sound like what you're saying.

Exactly right. And Tracy, you hit upon a major problem that I talked about in the book, and it's called the divided life. So we compartmentalize off this particular area of work. Sometimes our work can be challenging, sometimes it can be oppressive, sometimes it doesn't have much of a value to it. We feel that way. And we say, okay, well, that's just about money, right?

My real life is over here. And that divided life is certainly from a Christian perspective that believes in the incarnation, that the yeast of faith is animating everything I do, not just this section over here. And so that's why I think really the key heart of it is really reflecting on how can I open myself up to a much larger picture that the Lord's kind of calling me to in terms of the work that I do. So let's talk about the connection then between work and leisure. Why is leisure also important to how we work?

So the thesis of the book is that if we're going to get work right, we have to get leisure right. And that is, I think, this relationship between what we call the contemplative life and the active life. Or think about it in terms of breathing, Tracy, right? We have to breathe in, we have to breathe out, right? And this is really the nature of life.

That is, I need to receive and I need to give. Now, we often think of leisure as golf, as vegging out in front of a television, whatever it might be. And that's just a cheap version of what leisure can be. It can be leisurely in one sense, but if we depend too much on it, it actually destroys leisure because it doesn't give us rest. And so this leisure is about this receptive life. It's not about what I do, but do I have the capacity to receive the reality of the world? And that for us as Americans, particularly who are very pragmatic, very much like get it done, let's do it.

We have a hard time creating those conditions for receptivity. And then when I receive well, now I have the capacity to give well. And that's about work.

In a sense, how do I give up myself in the work that I do? So leisure is getting at the idea of the contemplative life, the receptive life. So that's why the relationship of work and leisure, the contemplative and active life, and this idea of receiving and giving is a kind of key rhythm of the way that we should be living. So it sounds like you equate the leisure parts of our life as contemplative.

And I think sometimes people hear, oh, well, I work hard and I play hard, you know, their idea of relaxing is to be on a game, you know, with some friends or to be on Facebook. And these are not necessarily the kinds of leisure you're talking about and maybe not producing some of the effects that we think they might be. A lot of our leisure are forms of amusements that actually are not life giving. Now, it doesn't mean watching television is inherently evil or watching a football game or playing a video game. They're not inherently problematic, but they become disordered when we spend way too much time on it, when our leisure becomes reduced to these things.

And now what's happened is we have a very small view of leisure and thus we don't have the human capacity to grow in the leisure that we have. As freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished. For more information about NC Family and how you can help us to achieve this incredible vision for our state and nation, visit our website at Again, that's And be sure to sign up to receive our email updates, action alerts, and of course, our flagship publication, Family North Carolina Magazine.

We'd also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Why do we have so much trouble just being contemplative, being quiet? There are a lot of reasons, obviously, but I think that we're living in what Pope Francis talks about as a technocratic, we have a technocratic paradigm. And again, let's be very clear, technology is a very good thing, right? Our phones really enable us to do really important things. But we sometimes live vicariously through these technological devices. And we don't often have opportunities to detach ourselves from them.

But the problem with the phones is that it has a creep dimension to it. Because then we go from that, and then we go to something else, and then we go to something else, and then we go to something else. And so I think we're going to have to find much better ways about how to detach ourselves from the technological, in order for us not to lose sight of these deeper realities. So I think that technology is a huge question.

The ubiquity of it is just astounding, both in terms of education, in terms of how people interface it, in terms of their families, in terms of what's happening at work. And I think it's largely in the family that we have to find these places, that we have to find ways to disconnect from it, and to get to these deeper realities. So as human beings, it's important to be quiet. But of course, as believers, and you've mentioned this several times, you can't have that time to worship, to concentrate on God. You even mentioned in your book, The Power of Sunday. So talk a little bit about that. As believers, why is this particularly important?

I tell some stories in the book about the difficulties that we've had as a family in my particular way in terms of the work. But if I was to kind of go back to the thesis question, I said if we don't get leisure right, we won't get work right. If we don't get Sunday right, we're not going to get Monday right. And Sunday, I don't mean just for an hour a day, I mean for the whole day. And this gets right back to the Ten Commandments.

Keep holy the Sabbath. And we think that somehow it's something like an extrinsic reality. But it is actually the way we're made. We're made to work, and we're made to rest. And Sunday ought to be a whole day of that. And it's really hard to do this in this culture.

And I could spend the rest of my time telling you how I fail at it all the time. But this idea that we need to reclaim Sunday, and this is where we need to look to the Jews, because the Jews have done this much better than we have. Of all the commandments, I think this is the one where it's just a little bit thinking, well, you know, it's maybe not as important. That was maybe for another day. I often say that if I said that about adultery, you know, honey, I try not to commit adultery this week, but I'll try next week.

You know, we know what would happen to our marriage. But this idea of the Sabbath, and the idea of the Lord's Day, we ought not to be casual with it. And that's why when we come to Sunday, we need to have a different set of habits of mind in terms of entering it. And I would say the key habit of mind is the habit of silence and solitude and the ability to silence ourselves.

And this is why we detach ourselves from production and consumption as well as technology. But then we also need the habit of celebration. And this is where the liturgy is so important, because what the liturgy tells us is that this world is good, not because I say so, but because it's been created so. Talk about how we achieve that balance of not making work too important and not making it not important enough. You use the word balance. And I do think balance has a role to play. But the deeper question we're always trying to get here is a question of integration.

Because balance sometimes fosters a divided life. I got work over here, I got leisure over there. And what we're really looking forward to is this, how do we integrate in a much more powerful way, this relationship between work and leisure, and two ways that we disorder it is precisely what you were getting at. One is we tend to undervalue work, and thus we see work as a job. So that's one ditch on the problem.

The other ditch is the careerist. And those are the people who overvalue work, they try to get out of more out of work than work can give. And their whole identity is found in terms of their achievements.

And that's often what is the first question we ask people, you know, what do you do? Because we seem to elevate people's doing over their being. We're more impressed, you know, so we go into places and we're looking for those people who have really achieved certain things who, who have made a certain success.

And we say, gosh, I met Bill Gates, I met, as though somehow thinking that those are the really important people in life. So the careerist, I think, overvalues these things. And a way of looking at work as a vocation.

And what it does is it orders work in its proper way. And part of that ordering is to make sure that the most profound moment of our lives is often not our achievements. But it's actually what we've been able to accept. Many of us, particularly the older we get when we have to accept failure, when we accept sickness, when we accept critique, and those moments are often those moments where we can grow most profoundly. Somebody once said, the fruit often grows in the valleys, not in the mountaintops.

And yet, I'm like everybody else. I, you know, I want to publish a book, I want to get applause for my talks. And, and I see that as the kind of real high moments. But those are often not the moments where the profound understanding humanity comes.

Now, they're important moments, but they're often not the key moments. Very interesting concept. And I'm sure that the people that are listening would like to learn more.

And we're about out of time. So Dr. Naughton, where can our listeners go to get a copy of your new book, Getting Work Right, Labor and Leisure in a Fragmented World? Sure, well, they can certainly get it right on Amazon if they want to go on that route. And they can get it right from the St. Paul publishing house.

And it's right on their website, very easy to get. Thank you so much, Dr. Michael Naughton. Thank you for being with us today on Family Policy Matters.

You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plan to tune in again next week. To listen to the show online and to learn more about NC Families' work to inform, encourage and inspire families across North Carolina, go to our website at That's Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 12:18:48 / 2023-02-26 12:25:03 / 6

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