Work is a universal and essential aspect of human existence. Through work, people obtain the means of sustenance and realise many of their potentialities. “The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.”
Work is indispensable to progress and the generation of wealth—not just for oneself, but for all the peoples of the world. Personal wealth is acceptable if it is earned through honest work and its acquisition is not the cause of the impoverishment of others.
“Wealth,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said, “is most commendable, provided the entire population is wealthy. If, however, a few have inordinate riches while the rest are impoverished, and no fruit or benefit accrues from that wealth, then it is only a liability to its possessor.”
To accomplish its purpose, work cannot be reduced to a mere means of satisfying wants and needs. It must find constant expression in service to humanity. When performed in a spirit of service, work may be seen as an act of worship.
“[A]ll effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity.”3 are ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words. “This is worship,” He continues, “to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people.”
Further, striving to excel is integral to meaningful work and disinterested service to humanity.
“You must become distinguished for loving humanity, for unity and accord, for love and justice. In brief, you must become distinguished in all the virtues of the human world—for faithfulness and sincerity, for justice and fidelity, for firmness and steadfastness, for philanthropic deeds and service to the human world, for love toward every human being, for unity and accord with all people, for removing prejudices and promoting international peace”
The concept of service is central to the pattern of Bahá’í life, both individual and collective.
“God has given us eyes, that we may look about us at the world, and lay hold of whatsoever will further civilization and the arts of living. He has given us ears, that we may hear and profit by the wisdom of scholars and philosophers and arise to promote and practice it. Senses and faculties have been bestowed upon us, to be devoted to the service of the general good; so that we, distinguished above all other forms of life for perceptiveness and reason, should labor at all times and along all lines, whether the occasion be great or small, ordinary or extraordinary, until all mankind are safely gathered into the impregnable stronghold of knowledge”
“…true faith is no mere acknowledgement of the unity of God, but rather the living of a life that will manifest all the perfections and virtues…” –‘Abdu’l‑Bahá
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Bahá’ís of Botswana
Bahá’í communities are working together with their neighbours and friends to promote and contribute to the well-being and progress of society. In urban centres and rural villages, in homes and schools, citizens of all backgrounds, classes and ages are participating in a dynamic pattern of life, taking part in activities which are, at once, spiritual, social and educational.
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