Make an effort to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed but is one who interprets the message of truth correctly (2 Timothy 2:15, Common English Bible).
Over the past few days I have been giving some thought to Labor Day. As I have thought about it, my brain went to a weird idea. I don’t really think it is an original idea because it seems like I heard it somewhere before. “We celebrate a day about working, by not working!”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a holiday as much as anyone. It is just that I find the contradiction interesting. Saturday, while visiting with a friend, I actually found myself calling Labor Day, “Oxymoron Day.” That is probably a bit of a stretch, but the contradiction is worth thinking about.
Still, to think of labor as a gift from God is not a stretch and that is where the majority of my thoughts have been on this subject. I know it sounds strange to think of “work” as a gift, perhaps it would be better to say, the ability to work is a gift. And, where would we be without work and the ability to work?
A couple of days ago I wrote on integrity. Our work is an opportunity to live out that integrity. Paul reminds us of that in the verse above, “…present yourself to God as a tried and true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed…” If we go about our work as if we are working for God, we will never have reason to be ashamed.
Beyond that, we are all called to work for God. The work we do for God may not be the way we make our living. When I first became a candidate for ministry in the United Methodist Church, there was a book, The Christian as Minister, that was required reading. The last I knew it was still in use but several revisions have happened since my candidacy days.
I think that is too bad. They removed my favorite part of the book! I am not sure exactly when, but I lost my original book some time back. So, I will share it with you as I remember it.
Our vocation is not necessarily the way we make our living but it is our work. To find our vocation one must find the intersection of what brings us the most joy with what God most needs done in the world. The unnamed author gave an example. If you are an ad-writer and you really get a kick out of your work, but you spend your days writing television deodorant commercials, you might meet number one, what gives you joy, but you are probably missing the boat on number two, what God most needs done in the world. On the other hand, if you are a doctor working in a leper colony but you find your work distasteful and depressing, you may meet number two, what God most needs done in the world, but not only do you not meet number one, the thing that brings you joy, you probably are not doing your patients much good either. We have to find balance in our work lives between our own joy and what God most needs done in the world. That is where we find our vocation.
I think that is the biggest celebration of labor we can have today or any day. We celebrate because when we are living out our vocation as our labor, we are living with a true gift from God. That alone will bring us joy. If there is joy in our work, we will be able to present ourselves to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed.”
Have a great Labor Day holiday and thank God for the ability to work and for your vocation.
Grace and Peace,
Copyright 2016, James “Keith” Broyles, All Rights Reserved