The Joy of Labor
In the U.S., today is our “Labor Day” holiday, a time when we generally do our best to avoid anything that looks like work. Many will go camping, spend the day at the beach, or perhaps at a family picnic.
Unfortunately, very few will pause to be thankful for the work they do. Only a handful will take time to honor and acknowledge the joy of work, and I find that very sad.
Most of us believe “work” is something to be avoided, and we wish for a path to instant wealth, because “then I’d never work again.” I suspect that’s one reason the universe makes sure most of us never acquire that kind of instant wealth!
I see work as a great honor and source of fulfillment, although I admit there is both “good” work and “bad” work.
“Bad” work is something for which we are not suited, or which we do for the wrong motives. For me, “bad” work would be trying to earn a living as an artist. I have a dear friend who is an accomplished painter. He creates beautiful images of cowboys, cattle and western mountain backgrounds. He was blessed with great talent and he loves it. I can’t paint a wall in a house without making a mess.
Doing work for which we are ill-suited, it seems to me, is so stressful that it borders on the immoral. Life is meant to be lived, to be joyful, and to be productive. Doing “work” we hate gives honorable work a bad name.
As I see it, work is our chance to partner with God in the creation of a better, richer, more exciting world. Work is our opportunity to build, to create, to leave our footprints in the sands of time. Work is our chance to say, “I was here, and I made a difference.”
Over the years, through my various jobs and hobbies, I’ve met wonderful people who reflected their life’s meaning and purpose in their work. Some were artists in how they drove delivery trucks, others found joy in Police work, writing, doing therapy, or in construction. One of my golfing buddies loves working with troubled kids, and it shows in his attitude and in how kids respond to his direction.
One of the wisest things anyone ever said to me is, “Find something you truly love to do, and you’ll never work another day the rest of your life.” Now, while I disagree with that disparaging definition of the word “work,” the point is essential. In our technological age, we have the greatest freedom in history to find work that is “perfect” for us.
Work is a very personal thing. It’s about combining your time and effort with your talents, skills and the situation around you to make things better. It’s about making a difference. It’s about making your contribution, and being productive.
This Labor Day, give thanks for the work you do, and the difference it makes. Celebrate your contribution to your community, and our world. And, if you are not doing the “perfect” job for you, pledge that by next year, you WILL be doing the right work. Life is too short to spend it doing work for which you are not suited or passionate! You owe that to yourself and to the world. We need your best stuff, your best effort, your passion and your unique genius.