Labor (Day) of Love

Labor (Day) of Love September 4, 2015

“It is not doing the thing which we like to do, but liking to do the thing which we have to do, that makes the difference.” — Goethe

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Can you tell the difference between canned soup and homemade soup? The difference is, in part, the love (or lack of it) that goes into creation of the soup. Even vegetarians know of the alleged therapeutic value of homemade chicken soul to “cure” the common cold. The therapeutic value of homemade soup “proves” that the attitude we have toward our work change the results of our work. If you see your job (from making soup to driving a truck) as a labor of love, then love will be a part of the result. And a job done with love will often result in a more loving and lovable worker.

But many people dislike their jobs (duh!). The writer of Ecclesiastes said with exasperation,“Utterly meaningless! Everything meaningless!… My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor… I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun…” Many people feel the answer to hating your job is to get a new one. Perhaps. Another option is to look first for sacredness and vitality in your present occupation. Truck drivers, waiters, surgeons, carpenters, makers of soup ~ all can be doing God’s work. The Apostle Paul was a tent-maker. Jesus was a carpenter. Albert Schweitzer was a physician. You may be a stay-at-home Mom. All of these “jobs” may rewards you spiritually, if not financially. The writer, Goethe, states, “It is not doing the thing which we like to do, but liking to do the thing which we have to do, that makes the difference.”

People often feel “stuck” for years  in a job that pays okay but is not spiritually rewarding. They stay for pretty obvious reasons, such as feeding the kids and having access to health insurance. But even in such circumstances, a good bottom line and beginning point with which to begin each work day is asking, “How may I be useful? What will make me feel spiritually rewarded? What am I willing to do to assure that my contributions will be beneficial to others?”

But no job needs to be completely unfulfilling if you cultivate a spiritual perspective on all that you do. Whatever you do for a job can be part of fulfilling a ministry. Many people I know have searched diligently for meaning and spirituality in such things as digging ditches,and have found little or none. So they cultivated a fulfilling service in volunteering as such “ministry” as hospital volunteer, hospice worker, advocate for homeless persons, and answering phones at a domestic violence hotline. A good starting place for each day is asking, “How may I be of use? What am I willing to do to make my life more spiritually rewarding? What am I willing to do to make the world a slightly better place as a result of my having been here?” Happy Labor Day of Love!

Dwight Lee Wolter is the pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. He blogs at dwightleewolter.com

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3 responses to “Labor (Day) of Love”

  1. Yes! Our “job” can be spiritually rewarding! If, we take the approach suggested by Rev. Wolter. By starting the day from a perspective of, “Who can I help today?”, we can transform our attitude toward our 9-5 life and provide solutions that are not only work related, but also respectful of our commonality as humans and our spiritual selves. Bravo!

  2. Well Said!! My current employer “saved” me from my last job which I despised. I wake up every day now saying “Who can I help today” and it is extremely rewarding for me. love, love, love my job and the person/people that saved me from my last one.
    Kathy L.

  3. Quite insightful and thoughts that I find so truthful. It is amazing how relevant this is to my own life and experience. I know that I put my best foot forward when there is passion and a purpose to the work that I produce. I have recently left my occupation of many years due to lack of passion. I tend to my duties with love and when that love is not respected it is hard to change perspective. I do agree that a spiritual and positive perspective can change the outcome of how you feel and how you produce at work, but that love and hard work need be nurtured by co-workers and employers alike. Sometimes that saying “Who can I help today” can be myself. I can help myself and others when I am able to produce with mutual respect. Thank you for the insightful words. I will do my best to bring them to my next endeavor.