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Definition of Terms


  • Use of energy, physical or mental, for the purpose of improving human life.
  • It is any activity that requires expenditure of energy or application of skills e.g. studying, teaching, cooking, farming etc.


  • Work can be described as a vocation, profession, trade, craft, career or a job.
  • Vocation is from a Latin word “Vocare” which means call.
  • Christians believe that every individual has been called of God to various duties.
  • Vocation is work that requires special skills, special training or a unique call or a special mission in society.


  • Work that is characterized by a code of ethics, lengthy specialized training, advance knowledge and self – disciple.
  • Professionals have their own set standards.
  • The professionals determine entry requirements for new members and usually have machinery for dealing with errant members. E.g. Law, medicine, architecture etc

A Trade

  • Refers to an occupation, a way of making a living.
  • Some trades require specialized training examples hairdressing

A Craft

  • An occupation which requires manipulative skills or use of the hands e.g. woodcarving, pottery, weaving.
  • A craft may be a trade depending on the nature of occupation.

A Career

  • An occupation that one chooses to pursue in his/her life.
  • It’s the general way of earning a living.


  • Refers to tasks performed, services rendered in return for payment of wages.
  • Most jobs are temporary others casual and others permanent and pensionable.

What Determines One’s Career, Vocation?

  • Available opportunities for future development in a particular job
  • The need to serve others especially the church and the needy
  • Interests, strengths, talents, abilities
  • Inclination or attraction to a certain kind of work
  • Pressure from parents, peers etc

General Reasons why People Work

  • It’s an essential element of life
  • God ordained work. Humans work for their food
  • Work contributes to the development of the community
  • Work is personal. It defines a person
  • People work to earn a living
  • People work for enjoyment, leisure
  • To assist and give to the needy
  • To get luxuries
  • People work to raise their standards of living
  • For self satisfaction and fulfillment
  • For personal development
  • To keep a person occupied and not idle
  • To acquire wealth and status in the society
  • To socialize with other members of the society
  • To attain independence and not depend on someone else

Traditional African Attitude to Work

a. Importance of Work

  • Work is essential to the well being of the individual and survival of the community
  • Work ensured basic needs such as food, shelters etc were provided.
  • In traditional African society work was divided according to the age, gender, and status e.g. chief, elder of the individual.
  • Everyone was a worker. Boys assisted in herding, fishing, girls assisted in cooking fetching firewood. Women cooked, took care of babies constructed houses (maasai) etc.
  • Works among the traditional African societies included pastoralist, farmers, livestock keeping, fishing, bee keeping etc
  • Work was a communal affair; people would work together and assist each other 
  • Work was not for a wage (Money). The rewards of work-included food, communal unity, acquisition of moral values etc
  • Hard work was emphasized, laziness was condemned
  • There were some specific works for specialization e.g. herbal medicine men, divination, prophecy, rain making, pottery etc.
  • Work involved giving prayers, offerings, and sacrifices to God
  • Through work, the basic needs of the individual, community were fulfilled
  • Through work potentials; talents and skills were explored, acquired and utilized.
  • Work had a religious dimension as well as a social dimension. It brought people together improving their relations

Christian Teaching on Work

  • The Christian teaching on work is based mainly on the interpretation of the bible, the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of the apostles.
  • Some of the teachings are: -
    • God himself instituted work. He created the heavens and the earth and all in it. Since God worked man should work. (Gen. 2:1)
    • God’s work of creation is good (Gen. 1:31) Christians should endeavor to produce good works
    • Work is a duty, an obligation, a command Christians are responsible for God’s creation (Gen.2: 15). They are to protect it – animals, birds, plants, marine life are all under the
      care of man.
    • Human beings should work to acquire their basic needs (Genesis. 1:29 – 30, 3:19) God blesses the work of our hands
    • Human beings are co – creators with God (Gen.1: 28) God continue to create through human beings. Human beings glorify God through their work.
    • God reveals himself through his work of creation. God had a purpose for his creation. He is orderly, source of life, Almighty etc.
    • Work is a co – operative undertaking. Eve was created to be Adam’s helper (Gen. 2:20) Christians should co – operate in their undertakings
    • Hard work is praised and laziness is looked down upon. (Proverbs 31:27). Christians should work for their daily needs and not become a burden to others.
    • Work should be accompanied with rest (Gen.2: 2) God rested on the 7th day from all his work. God commanded the Israelites to rest on the 7th day.
    • People should enjoy what they have worked for (Ecc.3: 22)
    • Work should be done for the glory of God and for the good of the society.
    • People should work honestly not steal but work to earn an honest living (Eph.4: 28)
    • Those who do not work should not eat. They should always work since God is always at a work (John 15:17)

Roles of Professional Ethos, Ethics and Codes in the Society


  • Professional ethics –: principles of behavior / conduct that guide members of a particular profession.
  • What workers are allowed to do and not to do.

Professional Ethos

  • The group identity of members of a profession, their unique custom or character e.g. what identifies doctors, lawyers etc.
  • Profession codes or code of ethics Collection of laws arranged systematically according to major concerns and core functions of the profession.


  • To regulate the behavior of professional (workers)
  • Enables professionals to understand their role
  • Ensures professionals provide quality of services to their clients
  • To encourage respect among professionals
  • Give guidance on how professionals should relate to one another
  • They safe guard professionals against being compromised / misused
  • They determine expected level of performance
  • They serve as a measure of competence
  • Act as a measure of quality service
  • They protect the professionals
  • They provide a reference point for disciplining (used to discipline the errant professional)
  • They inspire respect and high esteem for professionals
  • Through professional codes, ethics, ethos, professional earn public trust

Virtues Related to Work


  • A virtue is a good human habit. It’s a moral principle, moral quality or goodness of character and behavior.
  • Examples of virtues related to work
    1. Diligence – hardworking
    2. Honesty, integrity – ability to be relied upon (Integrity) Honest is being truthful.
    3. Faithfulness – being trustworthy and loyal
    4. Responsibility – ability to make decisions and take action independently. Being mindful of other people’s welfare
    5. Tolerance – ability to bear with others or with difficult situations

Moral Duties and Responsibilities of Employers and Employees

  • Employers include government, non – governmental organization, private sector, individuals, company, self-employment.
  • Employers have several duties and responsibilities towards their employees.
  • They are:
    • To organize and conduct business efficiently for the benefit of the institution, employer, community
    • To respect the employee, treat them with dignity
    • Pay a fair wage to the employee
    • Ensure good healthy and safe working conditions
    • Provide social welfare for the employees e.g. time off, leave days, time for recreation
    • Grant leave as required by law or the terms of contract
    • Take care of the welfare of the employees give medical cover, pension scheme etc
    • To motivate their employees
    • To reward employees
    • Compensate employees made redundant

Rights of the Employer

  • Employers have a right to / are entitled to
    • Get profits from their businesses
    • Carry out their businesses without unfair taxation
    • Form association with other employers
    • Obtain and conduct business
    • Hire, dismiss employees in accordance with the requirements of their firms and contract
    • Demand a fair day’s work
    • Conduct business without subjection to unfair conditions and competitions

Moral Duties of the Employees

  • Carry out their duties to the best of their ability without supervision
  • Respect and protect the property of the employer
  • Encourage peaceful solutions to any problems encountered in their work place
  • To work diligently for self – fulfillment and development
  • To respect their employer and fellow employees
  • Observe terms of contract with employer
  • Be loyal, honest, respect to the employer

Rights of the Employees

  • To receive fair wages
  • To have a reasonable work load
  • Have reasonable hours of work
  • Have safety and protection at work
  • Right to join a labor union
  • Right to further individual training and development education
  • Rights to retirement, terminal benefits
  • Rights to a fair opportunity for provision
  • A right to time for rest
  • Right to Favorable working conditions

Christians Approaches to Issues Related to Employment

Wages and Industrial Action (Strikes)

  • A wage is payments for work done.
  • Payment is in modern times done according to hours, weeks or days that one works.

Christian Teachings on Wages

  • Human beings have the right to work for a decent living (Matt.20:1 – 16) they should be paid for their work.
  • Workers should be paid wages to the amount and value of their work (1 Timothy 5:18)
  • Wages should be paid as agreed upon (Mathew 20:13)
  • Employers should not take advantage of the poverty of the employee (Deuteronomy 24: 14 – 15)
  • Human beings should not be enslaved to work (Ex.5:22 – 23)
  • Employers who degrade their workers in wages are condemned (Deut.24:14 – 15, Jer.22:13)
  • Oppression is condemned (Amos 5:18, 8; 4)
  • Workers wages should never be withheld (James 5:4)

Industrial Action

  • Also commonly called ‘Strike’ this is an effort by workers to stop work in protest by boycott go-slow sit – ins or refuse to work.
  • There has been increase of industrial action in the recent past in most countries of the world.

Reasons for Industrial Actions

  • Due to increased awareness of workers’ rights
  • Exposure to global trends through the media
  • Formation of trade unions that fight for the rights of workers
  • Due to poor working conditions
  • Underpaying workers
  • Threatening workers with unjustified dismissals
  • Suspending the workers / interdiction – unjustly
  • A hostile working environment

Results of workers strikes (industrial / action)

  • Pay cuts
  • Demotions
  • Loss of jobs
  • Employers suffer losses
  • Inflation
  • Injuries even death when confronted by police
  • Victimization of some individuals
  • Bitterness among the workers and employers

Christian approaches towards strikes

  • Christians recommend a peaceful co – existence between workers and employers
  • There should be fairness, justice, love among workers, employees
  • There should be an open communication channel across the ranks from top to bottom
  • Employees should not destroy property
  • Working conditions should be better and improved
  • Employees to be human when dealing with employees

Child Labour

  • A child is a person below 18 years. A child does not have an identity card, does not vote (in Kenya).
  • According to International Labor Organization the minimum employment age is 14 years.
  • Child labor is engaging a person below the age of 14 years in wage / paid employment.

Reasons why children are Employed

  • To provide cheap labor
  • They cannot fight for proper terms
  • They are easily hired and fired

Disadvantages of Child Labor

  • Children are not yet mentally and physically prepared to do adult jobs.
  • This leads to
    • Exploitation of children
    • Children paid less, taken advantage of
    • It inhibits the growth of a child and denies them a chance to enjoy their childhood
    • It deprives them of their right to basic education
    • It exposes children to hazards (dangers) from machines, chemicals
    • Heavy workload deprives children of social educational, moral, psychological, physical rights

Places where Children are Employed

  • Plantations – coffee, tea
  • Domestic services – homes
  • Tourism sector
  • Industries
  • Children are trafficked and employed as commercial sex workers

Causes of Child Labor – Reasons why Children Work

  • Lack of money / poverty
  • Death of parents
  • Dropping out of school due to pregnancy, indiscipline, (truancy), poor academic performance or lack of school fees.
  • Those who never went or taken to school
  • Lack of good role models e.g. coast province Mombasa; Malindi has several of the financially stable people being school dropouts, engaged in drug trafficking, commercial sex etc.
  • Influence of cultural values e.g. circumcision of boys in some communities is done later in life and one is declared an adult e.g. the kikuyu circumcising at 13 years, or 12 years
  • Children being lured by employers
  • Greed for material benefits
  • Being homeless ending up as a street child

Position of Church in Dealing with Child Labor

  • The church condemns it
  • It has put up homes for poor children (orphanages)
  • It provides guidance, counseling to both parents and children
  • Children are blessing from God hence should be loved and cared for
  • Parents have the responsibilities to protect their children from harm.

Unemployment and Self-Employment


  • When people are capable and willing to work but are unable to find a viable income or occupation it is referred to as unemployment.

Causes of unemployment

  • Preference for prestigious white collar jobs (Office jobs, non – manual jobs)
  • Corruption, tribalism, nepotism, bribery denying jobs to the qualified in preference for the unqualified.
  • Unequal distribution of wealth – some regions are more resourceful than others. Industries, good infrastructure concentrated in some areas.
  • Inadequate resources for self – employment (lack of capital, skills)
  • Limited job opportunities – probably due to high population growth
  • Few international investors in Kenya, probably due to high crime rate, insecurity

Response of Christians to issues of unemployment

  • They encourage self – employment in cases of unemployment
  • They have set up vocational training, polytechnics to train people towards jobs that are for self – employment

Christians condemn idleness


  • Self-employment is an economic activity initiated, controlled by an individual.
  • It is an occupation in which a person initiates a personal enterprise and manages it with the help of others.


  • Small businesses enterprises, Jua kali sector, music industry, entertainment (e.g. comedians), community work, agriculture etc

Problems / Challenges

  • Some lack sufficient capital to start a business and keep it running
  • Lack of necessary skills to run the business
  • High taxation leading to some business closing down
  • Small scale traders face undue competition from larger firms
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