11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. (Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 N.L.T.)
Since this is Labor Day (for my “across the pond” readers, here’s the history of Labor Day) it seems only appropriate I speak into this Day with my Monday Morning Musings. Let me ask you this question: Do you see your labor, your work, your job as a gift from God or punishment from God? And for you who are retired, do you see your years of labor as God’s gift or God’s punishment? A simple question with only 2 potential answers: Yes or No! I know some may want to expand the options and give it more choices. But let’s cut the bull and get to the chase: Your job, Gift of God or Punishment from God?
The answer to my question is really simple and not complicated at all, when you understand the correct context for the answer. The answer is rooted in how you see your relationship with God. The words this morning come from Solomon who is known as one of the, if not THE wisest man of all times. And to understand these words of Solomon’s you must know where he is writing from; not location but his perspective. His perspective is found in the opening words in chapter 1 verse 13: “I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven.“ Other translations say “under the sun”. In others words, he is saying, “I decided to use all this wisdom to find purpose and meaning in life WITHOUT God.” That’s kind of stupid for a man known for his wisdom.
His summation of life without a relationship with God is described as “chasing the wind.” You never catch it and you never get there. So what does this have to do with my question? Glad you asked! Unless you live deeply connected to God, everything you do will eventually feel like futility, especially your labor and work. Do you want a job that is fulfilling and rewarding? Then listen to the words of Paul in Colossians 3:23-24. “23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.“
Though these words were being addressed to slaves who were also serious followers of Jesus, they apply to every sphere of labor and work. Substitute the word “boss, supervisor, foreman, manager” for the concept of slave owner/master. In the world of Country and Western music a song was released in 1977 written by David Allan Coe and sung by Johnny Paycheck titled “Take This Job and Shove It”. Like all great Country and Western music, it tells a story and in this case it’s the story of a man unhappy with his job. At one time or another, most of us have secretly wanted to tell our boss those very same words. Without the deep connection with God, most all jobs will cause us to feel this way. As a preacher’s kid, I never wanted to be a preacher and said I would never be one. Now at 61, that rash teenager is just a distant memory. But you do not have to be a pastor or missionary to havea a sacred calling and Holy Vocation.
What if (I love this phrase) we started seeing our job, our labor, as Holy Vocations? You may wonder how cleaning toilets, waiting tables, working for ungrateful bosses or trying to help grumpy customers can be a Holy Vocation. Doing such tasks are not Holy in and of themselves. Going through the motions at work does not make your tasks sacred. BUT, if you do them to honor the One who created you and saved you with His blood given freely at The Cross, then it does become both sacred and Holy!
Instead of looking for that “perfect job”, which by the way, doesn’t exist, ask God for guidance, courage and strength to do it in the way that honors Him. You, alone, make the decision: “Am I doing this to pay the bills until a better job comes along? Or am I doing it for the One who labors tirelessly on my behalf?” Honor Jesus above everything and everyone else by seeing your moments of labor as a gift from God where you can honor Him with your heart and by doing your tasks with excellence. You become a witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ when you do your job with the sense of Holy Vocation. When you do, Jesus shows up and shows another person how their life will become different and better by living deeply connected to The Father. And you will find both peace and joy in your work. Doing your job for a paycheck or status? Both peace and joy will elude you.
So, enjoy this Labor Day, because when you see your whole life as God’s gift of a Holy Vocation and you honor The Gift by honoring the Giver, then you can say, “Good! Lord it’s Monday! What shall we do together?” Let’s pray:
Father, I surrender my whole life to you and I am going to take this job and accept it as Your gift. You can see how this job will bring you honor even if I don’t. Help me see this job as moments where You can be see through me. The only way this happens is if I hold on tightly to you. I make my commitment to be connected to You in all areas of my life. Amen and Amen!