As we look back on the Labor Day holiday in the United States and look ahead to the busy fall season, I stop and reflect upon the profound blessing it is to work and what a privilege I have to work for each of you, dear readers.
I honor human work and the dignity of work. Work is more than simply a sad reality of life, but a way for us use our human gifts to benefit others and experience a type of joy that only comes from the labor of our hands.
My philosophy on work is encompassed by Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 in the Hebrew Bible:
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
Now so much can be unpacked from that. The reformer Martin Luther assumed a static world and used “work” and “calling” interchangeably. I would not do that. Sometimes we are called to reform work and the conditions which surround it, which is also why we celebrate Labor Day. The key is not necessarily to embrace the status quo, but to see the silver lining in the struggle. Not all work may represent one’s calling. Martin Luther King Jr. adds a caveat – labor that “uplifts humanity” has dignity.
King, borrowing in part from Martin Luther, said:
“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
Satisfaction in work comes from doing it well. Do you ever notice that flight attendants who love their jobs work hard and provide great service? Or is that looking at it the wrong way? Perhaps flight attendants who choose to work hard and see the fruits of that labor come to love their jobs…
Let’s get personal for a moment.
Surely we can agree that the milkmaid and the trash man and the steel worker and the stay-at-home mom performs essential work that should be celebrated. But does a bunch of clickbait on poor behavior on airplanes serve humanity?
As I face a new crossroads of opportunity, I am well-aware of the compromises I make to provide for my family. Clickbait wins the internet. Sorry, folks. It is what it is. There is something noble about finding novel ways like writing a blog to put food on the table for your family. Who would have ever thought that flying to Frankfurt for a rubber duck would pay for itself?
This blog was never meant to be my primary occupation; it is but a creative release that provides fuel to help me get through my day. It is not a tedious burden, but a great joy to write each day…and maybe that is why the blog continues to grow.
I’d write this blog if never saw a penny for doing so…it’s a part of my life that I greatly enjoy. And there is a certain dignity in that too. My content may not always be what I would prefer to focus on, but it is carefully crafted to maximize engagement while never compromising core values.
So as we close out the summer and return to work after an extra day of rest, I want to thank each of you for reading. And I want to encourage each of you, whatever your work, whatever your calling, that through diligence, organization, and perseverance you will make a difference and come to love what you do. Work is a common grace and it is truly a gift.
image: a mural from the Works Progress Administration