Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor of Love

A man selling fish can experience his work as a labor of love when he understands it as a high calling of God. Barb Harwood, photo

What is a "labor of love?"

I used to think it meant indulging in a passion, which I did not associate with paid employment. Painting a landscape, redoing a kitchen, bringing a 1969 Nova back to its former glory, all qualified. But I never associated that which is done in order to earn a paycheck as a “labor of love” because I saw going to work every day as something people had to do. When there’s no choice in the matter, it may be labor, but it certainly cannot be labor that we love.

My worldview on that has drastically changed along with the change in my larger worldview from that of a secular humanist to a born again Christian. Just like God transformed my worldview on what it means to be a mother and wife (not to mention a woman in general), God changed my worldview on employed work.

In the past, I held some jobs in high esteem (those would be considered “careers”) and many jobs in low esteem (those would be considered “dead end”). But I (along with the world that reinforces these views) got it wrong. Only after experiencing a supposed “career” job did I realize that I enjoyed my “lowly” job as a car wash attendant more than my professional position as a copywriter for a trade journal!

The point isn’t to now knock what is commonly considered career work. No. The point is to understand and believe that all jobs can be labors of love (considering the large percentage of our lives on earth given over to employment, shouldn’t they be?). It would follow then, would it not, that if a person loves their position as a car wash attendant, and another loves their position as office copywriter, they’re both equally valid labors of love?

They are in God’s eyes. When we do the work God sets in front of us at any given time and for any given purpose, we can devote ourselves to that course of employment as a labor of God’s love, because we do it through the power of the God who loves us and whom we love and who gave us the ability to do work in the first place. What a high calling our sweeping, filing, fixing, driving, serving, phoning, computing, constructing, teaching, mediating, leading, faxing, healing, etc. becomes when we see it as being done for God and through His grace and giftedness!

Pastimes are indeed rewarding and can fill voids that our paid employment cannot. But the way we earn our living need not be something lesser, or drudgery, simply because it’s necessary. Our place and activity of employment can morph into a labor of love when we understand it as a place where a loving and faithful God serves through us and through which we can glorify and please Him. God becomes our true boss, manager, and co-worker rolled into one.

May your work be a labor of God’s love!

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

“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.” Colossians 3:23-24

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