Labor Day

labor_day

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,
Keith

Copyright 2016, James “Keith” Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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