How Nigeria Can Become a Developed Nation: The Role of Dignity of Labour

Posted by News Express | 15 December 2015 | 3,472 times

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DIGNITY OF LABOUR indicates that all types of jobs are respected equally, and no occupation is considered superior. Though one’s occupation for his or her livelihood involves physical work or menial labour, it is held that the job carries dignity, compared to the jobs that involve more intellect than body.

One of the major contributions of the Protestant faith to the world is the culture of dignity of labour. At the time Martin Luther, John Calvin and other leaders of the protestant reformation started their works of reformation in Europe, Europe was as backward and as underdeveloped as most countries in Africa are today.

Some of the countries we have now come to respect in Europe like Germany and England, were so backward and underdeveloped that Germans were known as lazy drunks who despised any form of hard work. In England, things were so bad that the streets of London had homeless people everywhere dying of poverty, prostitution, alcoholism without any hope of things ever getting better.

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” —John Carmack

When the Protestant preachers began delivering their extremely fiery messages in the churches and in the streets of Europe, one of their main focus in preaching was called the dignity of labour, which entailed the following facts:

Everybody must get a job.

All jobs must be respected, because they are being done unto God.

By working we become coworkers with God.

Work is a form of service to God.

No occupation is considered superior since everyone is doing his best where he is.

You need to work even if it is a menial or dirty job, because every job is participating in the process of creation.

Everybody must work even if you are not working for money. You must work to actualise yourself.

“He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes.” —Rich. Ancient Proverb

What did the concept of dignity of labour do to Europe and what can it do to Africa today? What this very commendable efforts of preachers did to Europe is that:

It took people off the streets.

People were taught that they were created by God and they themselves must become creators like God.

There came a respect and dignity for work.

People began to understand that wealth and success is not a matter of luck.

Superstition regarding work and wealth was broken. Everybody now knew that wealth comes only from hard work, not from some superstitious beliefs.

The society was taught to respect all workers.

Each worker no matter the level, knows he is participating in the process of creation with God hence the dignity.

Every worker knows that by working, he is releasing the nature of God in him. He is becoming creative just like God is creative.

In the process, factories, industries began to spring up all over the place.

It leads to industrial revolution with 75% of inventions and discoveries being credited to Protestants who were taught in the culture of dignity of labour.

I believe that for Nigeria and other third world countries to truly become developed, we must change the culture and attitude of our people towards work. In my observations, I see that the culture that is prevalent right now in Nigeria and indeed Africa is the culture of GET RICH QUICK.

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything.”Vince Lombardi

What the culture of get-rich-quick does to our people is:

Young men only wish to do prestigious work.

Our young people look for quick answers and solutions.

People want to get something for nothing.

They look down at people who are engaged in manual labour.

Fraudulent money schemes are prevalent in the society

Armed robbery, theft becomes the order of the day.

People don’t believe that hard work is worth it.

People begin to think that there is no natural process to success, hence the fraudulent novel rich (swindlers, drug pushers, 419 scammers, etc) begin to become respected in the society

People forget that they have to create their wealth in their nation. They rather think they must be given.

The escapist mentality becomes prevalent, giving birth to the syndrome of economic refugees. 

What the new government of Nigeria and other African governments must do is to start a massive reorientation campaign in the culture of the dignity of labour. We must bring back dignity to hard work. Our people must once again realise that it is only hard work and excellence that leads to wealth creation.

Wealth gotten from dishonest means will reduce and a diligent worker will enjoy increase.

It must once again become a common knowledge to our people that it is only the wealth that we create that we can share. From our primary schools to secondary schools, to tertiary institutions, there must be a mass campaign to educate our people in the value of labour.

Every major outward change must first begin in the mind. So for us to expect development in our nations, we must first bring development to the minds and understandings of our people. The change we quest for outwardly must first be attained inwardly.

One destructive mindset that must be altered in our society is the thought that work is a curse. Some people advocate that if you are truly blessed you don’t need to work hard because, as they say, the “race is not to the swift.” I have even heard statements like “a day of favour is better than a thousand years of labour.” To make things worse, this type of teaching is actually coming from our pulpits. We call ourselves Protestants, but we have totally departed from the teachings of the early Protestants. Martin Luther, John Wesley and John Calvin would turn in their graves, if they hear the kind of teachings we are now feeding the people of God with.

While they, the early Protestants, focused on forming the nature of God in people, the Protestants of today are focused on gratifying the needs of the people. As a result of their teachings, the early Protestants created a new society that we now refer to as developed and advanced countries. It is the descendants of these early European protestants that later scattered throughout the surface of the earth. Everywhere they went, they took the same message and culture of dignity of labour with them.

As a result, these Protestants that moved to Australia, brought about a quick and accelerated growth and development. When they went to America with the same work ethic and culture of dignity of labour America quickly became a developed and advanced nation.

The descendants of these early Protestants took this same culture to South Africa, New Zealand, and everywhere they went, they were able to replicate the same work ethic that resulted in growth and development.

It must be noted, however, that there were other Europeans that traveled to other parts of the earth, but because they did not take with them the same Protestant culture of dignity of labour, they did not record the same level of success, growth and development as the early Protestant Immigrants had done.

Examples of these other Europeans that moved from the continent to other continents is the immigration from Spain to Latin American countries. They took with them the Catholic culture. As a result those countries are still developing countries till today. IT IS THE CULTURE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE. When there is no internal transformation, there cannot be external progress and development whatsoever.

Other Europeans that moved from the mainland Europe were Portuguese, one of the richest countries along with Spain those days, yet because their descendants did not have the same culture of dignity of labor as in the Protestant countries, the Portuguese could not bring about development to Brazil and other Portuguese speaking nations. IT IS THE CULTURE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.

Even today in modern Europe, it is a known fact that the most developed countries are the countries with the Protestant tradition, while the dominantly Catholic nations like Spain, Italy, Portugal are less developed.

What I am trying to say is, we must change the minds of our people towards positively relating to work, labour, etc. Our government, media houses, schools, must focus on creating a new culture in our society. A culture of work. A culture of labour. A culture of diligence. A culture of hard work. A culture of perseverance.  A culture of persistence. A culture of DIGNITY OF LABOUR.

Finally, let me quickly outline the benefits that right attitude to work would bring to our people and nations. People must be taught that money is not the most important benefit of work. Work indeed has many more benefits than money.

We work to firstly realise our hidden potentials. Work therefore is the paramount key to discovering yourself. God has hidden in each and every one of us so many abilities, gifts and resources that could only be activated by work.

We work to discover and release the potential of the earth around us. God in his infinite wisdom has deposited in everything potential for growth and multiplication. There is worth everywhere and in everything we see. Work therefore is designed to release all this abundance of wealth hidden inside everything. For example, it is only by work we extract gold from the soil. It takes work to discover the oil that is already deposited in the ground. It is work that turns a hill of coal into karats of diamond.

Work is given to us by God as an instrument to multiply resources. Everything God created was created in a seed form, small and miniature. It takes work to increase and multiply every resource we see around us.

Work is the divine provision God has given to every man through which we can all provide for our needs, for the needs of our families and others.

God gave us the grace and ability to work, because it is only through work we can resolve national issues.

Work gives us access and opportunities. Our young men and women must be taught that through hard work, they can create opportunities for themselves and others.

God told us to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth. The only instrument that is given to all men equally to do this is work.

God only gives men power to make wealth, meaning God does not give wealth, he gives the power to work for it. (Deu. 8:18)

Through work, we serve, minister, and become God’s stewards on the earth.  

Work must not just be physical, we must teach our people that work is both mental, spiritual and physical.  All works bring profit. Meaning true work will facilitate the development and advancement of any nation or people.

If our governments in Africa take this message seriously, we could actually end up building our own nations to become developed and advanced just like any other country in the first world. We will need to introduce the culture of DIGNITY OF LABOUR to our societies. That way our young people will no longer keep on risking their precious lives in the Mediterranean ocean, in an attempt to find a better life in the so called developed countries.

Whatever any nation has done, could be easily replicated if we know the principles and the secrets behind it. That is why I have decided to share this principle of dignity of labor with my nation Nigeria, countries in Africa and other developing nations of the world.

If Nigeria and Africa, Mexico and Latin America, other developing countries are to stop losing their best sons to the disaster of tragic deaths in places like the Mediterranean ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Then we must take this message seriously. It is my prayers that the governments of these countries would take a serious look at this topic and implement the principle so as to lead their nations to growth and economic prosperity.

•Sunday Adelaja is a Nigerian born leader, Transformation Strategist, Pastor and innovator who lives in Kieve Ukraine. He can be contacted at

Source: News Express

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