Chocolate and meaningful work

Chocolate and meaningful work December 22, 2014

By Alayna Greenfield, originally published at the KPN Resources blog.

Regardless of profession, most people want to know that the hours they spend working will contribute to something that matters. There are countless books, studies, and articles showing that there is a connection between helping others and a sense of meaningful work. As a pastor, it’s easy to see how your work benefits others. You can create lists of people you’ve helped and reasons why your job is important.

People tend to think of meaningful professions as ones where positive impacts can be readily identified – ministry workers, firefighters, surgeons, and the like. Consequently, workers in these fields report higher job satisfaction. As Sam Ng, development lead at Practice Fusion, an electronic health records company, says, “I love my job because at the end of the day, I know that we get to change lives here.”

But what about those in professions who don’t see their work is meaningful? All they know is that their long, repetitive hours of labor are how they make it through life. Think about how agonizing those hours must be when workers don’t recognize the contribution they are making or understand the importance of what they are doing.

The following videos capture how attitudes change when people realize how their work produces something worthwhile or benefits others. In the first video, Ivory Coast cocoa farmers taste chocolate for the first time. The farmers had no idea that their labor created such a delightful end product or so much happiness around the world. One farmer states, “We complain because growing cocoa is hard work. Now we enjoy the result. What a privilege to taste it.”

The second video shows a first-world viewpoint. Many people benefit from the work of the cocoa farmers, but have no idea where the chocolate comes from. This is the beauty of trade and enterprise – we bless others with our work, though we may never meet them, and in turn we are blessed by neighbors we may never know.

It can be easy to forget that the products we use – necessities such as food and heat – don’t just come from the grocery store and electric company, but through the work of individuals. These products – milk, chocolate, clothing, bolts, and the countless others – keep the economy alive. Everything that is bought and sold, imported and exported, happens by the providence of God through the labor of the individuals involved, from the chocolate harvester to the factory worker.

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