In 1882, a machinist and secretary of the Central Labor Union, Matthew Maguire, proposed a holiday to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers. My home state of Oregon, was the first to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday, 30 states had already officially celebrated Labor Day. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill to make Labor Day a national holiday in 1894.
Labor Day has become the symbolic end of summer (except in Southwest Florida where I live). And in some communities, the week after Labor Day is still the first week of the new school year. Street parades, picnics, political rallies, retail mark-down sales, an end-of-summer camping trip, sports events and festivals are common activities for Labor Day weekend.
While work and labor is celebrated on one specific day of the year in our nation, I hope that isn’t the only day we pause to value the social and economic contribution of others and ourselves. We humans are designed to create, produce, fashion, craft, form, construct, invent, make, manufacture, fabricate and generate. God intended that we find pleasure and significance in our work.
For some, their work defines them. Especially men. If you ask a man in our North American culture about who they are, they will often define themselves by their work or their career. Most women will tend to define themselves more quickly by their role—a mom, a wife and then maybe their career. The problem comes when we retire from a career or lose a job for some reason. We can loose our sense of identity, value and self-worth. And, that’s very unhealthy.
While our work and chosen career shouldn’t define us and give us our primary sense of worth, by intention, labor is meant to bring satisfaction to the soul and mind. There’s an old adage that says, “If you love what you do, you don’t work a day of your life.” That’s true. It’s absolutely true. I know from experience. And the best way to describe hard work when you love it is, Heart Work. That’s it. It’s work that comes from the heart. You love it so much you would do it for free if you could find another way to pay your bills.
So, on this Labor Day, think about your life, especially your work. Ask your self some questions. Is your profession, your work or your career, your chief identity or is it your sense of calling and one of several ways you find fulfillment? Do you love your work in a way that you can’t believe someone would pay you for having this kind of fun and fulfillment or is something you just endure to pay the bills? You can do something practical or you can do something that makes your heart sing. What kind of work makes your heart sing? What deliberate determinations and decisions do you need to make today to make sure your work is “heart work” and truly a celebration that makes your heart sing.
QUESTION: What is it about your work that makes your heart sing? Please share it below. Thanks!