Although many dread the start of another working week; for others, it’s a cruel reminder that a job feels unattainable.

Because, contrary to popular belief and opinion – work was a part of creation before the fall. Genesis 2 tells us the Adam is given work to do to care for the garden and also name all the animals! This work is not just restricted to paid work however; indeed the definition of work doesn’t mention payment at all.

The Oxford Dictionary defines work as an “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”

Timothy Keller writes about the importance of work, demonstrating that its significance is not found in payment nor employed, but in our attitude of service.

“But in Genesis we see God as a gardener, and in the New Testament we see him as a carpenter. No task is too small a vessel to hold the immense dignity of work given by God.”

We do this, throughout life; from babies learning new skills every day, to school work, volunteer work and paid work.   Our service to God; through our attitude, to whatever small offering we can bring is where we can honour God through unemployment, sick leave, full time work or anything in between.

And yet for the 1 in 4 who live with a mental illness; work can feel impossible with TUC estimate that 3/4 of people with long term mental health conditions are unemployed – and those who are unemployed are at a higher risk of suicide than those in employment.

So what can be done?

  1. Whether you’re able to work or not, routine is important. It might be ensuring that you get up at roughly the same time each day and plan out what you are going to do each day – even if you don’t feel like you can do much, perhaps aim for one task a day – going for a walk or talking to a friend on the phone.
  2. Try and get outside at least once a day – it’s easy to spend whole days indoors when you don’t feel well, but getting some fresh air even for a short time each day means you can get some vitamin D.
  3. If you’re well enough; consider volunteering at local church or community groups, or enrolling on a free Open University Course to give your day some structure.
  4. As a church, consider having a weekly cafe group for those unemployed or not working to socialise or participate in hobbies they might not otherwise be able to afford – you could even set up a befriending scheme for others in the same position in the community.
  5. Ensure your church’s teaching on work doesn’t restrict it to paid work – remembering that our value doesn’t come from our work – and that everyone has a part to play in community, regardless of whether they’re able to work.