Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
In his second anthology, It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It, Robert Fulghum shares these words as he reflects of the things we do for financial compensation.
So, what is it you do? If you don’t have a business card these days, you are not to be taken too seriously. When it was my turn, I had no business card. Can’t seem to get me down on that little piece of paper. What I do is kind of complicated. Making a living and having a life are not the same thing.
Some thoughts to ponder as Labor Day arrives in our world. I found myself drawn to Fulghum’s core question … are we defined by what we get paid for, or by all those other things that we give our time to? Labor Day is a time to reflect upon our work. For most of us, of course, it is a day of celebration from work, as many of us have the day off. It has been celebrated since 1822 in order to create a day off for the working citizen. In 1984 Congress made it the federal holiday it is today.
So what kind of “work” gives your life meaning? Is the way you create an income for yourself how you define yourself? Is it the work you lovingly engage in for the sake of your family … raising children, keeping house, teaching morals? Is the work that truly motivates you the avocation you are called to in the realm of community service? What makes you tick? What does it mean to you to be about “labor.” Is it a joy? Is it a burden? Is it a means to an end? Is it an end it itself?
Some people in the world are extremely blessed to have the privilege of being compensated to do something they love to do. Some people would say they are blessed to have employment that opens up other doors of opportunity for them in terms of what is truly motivational in their lives. Some people struggle with the jobs they are called to do in order to place food upon their table and a roof over their head. They would be hard pressed to make any connection between what they get paid to do and what they truly love to do. But whatever the circumstance a person finds herself or himself in, Fulghum is right in reminding us that whatever gives you meaning in life is whatever labor God has called you to, whether you get paid for it or not.
As you pray and meditate upon this prospect, think for a moment about those things you are good at … those places where God has gifted you with a talent or skill. Consider places where those charisms might be put to use in God’s name and for God’s purpose. Consider those things that you may not be especially gifted for, but which you love to do, anyway. Consider the possibility that whether it is something that is always done with excellence in terms of performance, it can still be something of excellence that grows out of a place of devotion and dedication in your heart. And in all things, remember the God who has blessed you with this privileged work.