The Cooperative Magic of Work

Dylan Pahman, fellow at the conservative think tank Acton Institute, writes,

“Work,” wrote the Reformed theologian Lester DeKoster, “is the form in which we make ourselves useful to others.” I like this definition because it puts things in a realistic, everyday perspective. Certainly, people can work just because they want a paycheck to spend on themselves alone. That might be greedy, but we need to be careful not to confuse profit with greed.

People work in order to profit, but profit is not good or evil in itself. That judgment depends on the circumstances in which it was gained and the use to which it is put. And as DeKoster points out, our work itself is service to others. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t pay us to do it in the first place, and most people wouldn’t want to do it for free. It’s an exchange.

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