Question: What taskmasters do you need to be liberated from to reclaim your dignity?
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Transcript of Video:
When God invites the people to have a day of rest each week, he reminds them that they have come out of a system of slavery and oppression in Egypt, and now they are to be a different people. In Egypt they were oppressed and under a system that demanded constant effort, constant productivity, a constant kind of restlessness, a constant pressure to perform and to achieve certain quotas. And Pharaoh pushed harder and harder because he had bigger dreams of accumulating more and more wealth. So we see the wealth moving up to the top, where Pharaoh is at the top of the pyramid as it were, and the people of Israel are in the bottom. Their ceaseless labor and productivity feeds Pharaoh’s insatiable hunger for wealth and for power.
And now God delivers the people out of that system and he tells them in the new system, “Yes, you’ll have work, but work is meant to be meaningful, it’s meant to be an integrated part of life.” We are not meant to be driven by constant productivity. And yet we find ourselves often in that place today where people say, “I have to work 60 or 70 hours a week in order to fulfill my employer’s expectations.” Or, “My employer expects to have contact with me through e-mail or phone 24/7 and I can be asked at any time to drop what I’m doing to take care of what he thinks is urgent.” This takes away the dignity of people, and it makes them just objects, which are driven to achieve the ends of the taskmaster who is over them.
And God’s liberation of people says that this type of rest is important. It’s important for the dignity of the person. So if you’re an employer, you have a responsibility to make sure that the people that are working for you have sufficient rest and have a chance to stop their labors and to be with their families, to have time to think and to live and to enjoy life, and not to demand ceaseless labor from them. And if you’re an employee, try to create in your week Sabbath times, times for stopping, for ceasing work, and for living into the fullness of your life. We’re not meant to just be tools of productivity.
-Br. David Vryhof