Labor of Musings

August 27, 2019

Got plans for Labor Day? It’s usually the last hurrah of summer and kicks off fall with picnics, cookouts, and a last pool day. Most of the labor force gets the day off work to honor the American worker. The rest make old jokes about working on their day. But work/jobs are not really a warm subject for many of us. 87% of Americans have no passion for their jobs, and 80% of U.S. workers are downright dissatisfied with their jobs.

Statistics show that people's jobs can contribute to workaholism, insomnia, and divorce.

The average person spends more than 90,000 hours in their lifetime at work, and it affects their personal lives. One quarter of Americans say work is their number one source of stress. Here in the U.S., work stress is estimated to be the fifth biggest cause of death.

How do you feel about celebrating Labor Day now? 😊

Achieving happiness at work is a skill that we really need. Srikumar Rao, author of Happiness at Work, says that we undermine ourselves when we think something has to “happen” in order for us to be happy. That causes us to push our happiness into future events: “when I get a promotion, my bonus, the corner office,” That causes us to miss out on things that could give happiness right now. We don’t realize we have tremendous control over our happiness right now.

King Solomon, the wise man, wrote advice to the next generation: “Everyone should . . . find satisfaction in all his hard work (Ecclesiastes 3:13). Not “be satisfied” in their work but “find satisfaction.” There’s a BIG difference in the two. Being satisfied is a feeling, an emotion. This is something we can’t control. But finding satisfaction is a choice. You can choose it. You can enjoy your work. That won’t mean every day will be easy or fun. That doesn’t mean every part is your favorite. It doesn’t mean you’ll wake up in the morning, throw your briefcase in the case and start singing, “Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go!” Work is hard, challenging, and sometimes frustrating. People can be hard to work with. You can be under-resourced and lack information.

But you can always choose to find satisfaction in the middle of it. Maybe the thing that will ring your bell is the people you get to work with. Maybe it’s the significance you feel in making a difference for your customers and clients. Maybe it’s the way it allows you to care for your family. Maybe it’s the schedule it permits you to have. For various reasons and regardless of the income level, there are ways to find satisfaction in your job.

Work is a gift from the hand of God. For a Christian, there are two purposes of work: to do good (ministry) and to provide for real needs (productivity). God wants you to be productive in your work, and He wants you to minister through your work.

If you are a Jesus follower, you should be recognized as a great employee. You are representing Jesus, and all you do reflects on Him. He doesn’t want you to simply put in time. He wants you to impact people with who you are and the quality of your work. He wants you to influence people for good. You do that by developing and using the talents and gifts God gave you. You honor God by giving Him your best. You show and tell others with whom you have contact in your work about God’s love for them. You use the hardships and challenges in your work as an opportunity to grow in Christlike character.

Our work life is the place where most of our interactions with people outside our families will take place. Research quoted in HuffPost Australia says that we only spend an average of 328 days socializing with friends in our entire lifetimes. Compare that with the estimate that the average person will spend 13 years and two months at work. But don’t get confused. Remember, your work and your worth are two different things. If you are getting your worth from your work, it will cause you to be lose focus on family and things that are truly important. Your work is a place to make an impact for Jesus and provide for the needs of your family. It is not to be the source of your significance. Keep your priorities straight. Never let your work, no matter how much good you do there, ever overshadow your relationship with Jesus and the family He gave you.

I’ve been by bedsides as people have died. I’ve seen people take their last breath, sometimes at a hospital, sometimes in a home. Among all the people I’ve watched die in my lifetime, I’ve never heard anyone say with their dying breath, “I wish I’d spent more time at the work.” Not one.