The Journey Continues: Labor Day
My journey this week takes me to Labor Day which I associate with work and getting tired; I greatly respect the working person. Like most people, I learned about work from my folks and their neighbors – all toiling to make a living from the land.
While I was in college, summer employment formed my understanding of “working.” When given a job opportunity, I asked, “Is it an outside or inside job?” Outside jobs had two basic categories – sitting down or standing up. Any inside job was better than a job on the outside.
I learned that jobs often included unpaid preparation time – such as laboriously using a hand pump to fill the self-propelled combine from a barrel of gasoline and greasing bearings; all accomplished before my pay started. I also did bridge construction. The routine there of the 11-hour day was guided by the sound from the horn of the boss’ pick-up truck. We started when the horn sounded; our 30-minute lunch break started and ended by that same horn and the final sound came at 6:30 p.m. when our time stopped. Afterwards we took our tools to the storage shed, about a mile distant from the work site, on our time. One afternoon during a heavy weather squall, we all took shelter under the trucks for about 15 minutes. Our paycheck that week was “light” by those 15 minutes.
My fellow worker was missing one afternoon, and the next day, when I asked him where he had been, I was humbled by his answer “Jim, I took off a half-day to bury my daughter.” That’s all he could afford to miss.
That changed my worldview. I appreciated what “labor” meant when I returned to A&M in the fall.
R. Kent Hughes in “Disciplines of a Godly Man” brings us to what the Bible says about work.
“We meet God the creator as a worker in Genesis 1:1 – 2:2… God’s being a worker endows all legitimate work with an intrinsic dignity…. Men (and women) you must set this on your hearts: Your work matters to God!”
Hughes said that most people count their labor only in terms of the material – for what the eyes can see – providing for themselves and their loved ones. He urges us to look at successful workers and the disciplines they employ: Energy, enthusiasm, wholeheartedness, excellence.
In Luke 10:7b, Jesus told his disciples to accept hospitality because “the worker deserves his wages.” Paul echoed the same words in I Timothy 5:18b and lastly:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for
men, since you know that
you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”