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Raymond Dix: Our own work will bring success

Raymond Dix

Raymond Dix

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Updated: January 23, 2012 2:00AM



When I was just a boy, I learned in a very real way about the way the world works. I thank my parents who taught me by precept and example that the world was not responsible for my happiness.

In fact, they made sure I understood the opposite; only God is the source of true contentment and it is foolhardy at best to rely on people or the things others have and control for personal happiness or provision.

Where has this approach gone in today’s world? Why do we live in a world where people feel entitled to that which belongs to another?

It is fine to hope others would share their successes and resources with those in need, but an insistence or requirement for them to do so seems shortsighted and undersells the idea of personal potential.

I often question myself as to why I never pursued ideas that might have brought financial security to my family and me with vigor and dedication.

After I finish with the self-defeating excuses regarding how others did not support me, society was against me and that somehow I drew the short stick in life, I conclude the only real impetus to greater success was me.

Yes, it is personal. It is hard for those of us who struggled through life with an entire suitcase full of “what if” baggage to conclude that perhaps we did not simply possess the personal drive to pursue fully our own potential. This deduction hurts, but is a necessary conclusion to avoid future despair.

Scripture across the religious spectrum supports the idea of individual responsibility. The Jewish Torah says in Genesis 3, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Regarding work, the Quran speaks of working to exhaustion for reward, regarding righteousness.

In the Christian Bible, the Apostle Paul states to the believers at Thessalonica, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”

Clearly, it is the historical contention of the faithful that the degree to which a person labors is comparable to the degree of the fruit of that labor. If one works hard, applies oneself, refrains from jealousy and desire over what belongs to another, success could more readily occur in their own lives.

This is an ethic that seems to escape our modern culture. Instead, as a society we move at an ever increasing pace toward the idea that it is our right to enjoy the fruits of another’s labor. This idea permeates our public discussions in ways too numerous to mention.

In many communities we see generations of young people who refuse the course of labor and work, choosing instead to burden parents with supporting them for life. This sometimes results from a decision to hold parents guilty for not providing an easier life or financial reward as inheritance.

This “I will not flip burgers” attitude often stifles and ruins the God-given creative force within every person, designed to author the pursuit of our full human potential.

What then do we do? We begin by denying the inherent right to live off the labor of others. We accept and give charity as needed, with the express purpose to spur individual growth toward the fulfillment of potential and purpose.

We must afford every person, regardless of life circumstances, a chance to succeed on some level, without the guarantee of success. Equal opportunity does not guarantee equal outcome or results.

If we do this, we expand the likelihood of success for those who stand in need. To this end we can all work.

Raymond C. Dix Jr. is senior pastor of Berean Fellowship Church, Gary



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