LABOR DAY: On the clock
AUGUSTA, Ga. (BP) -- Every click of the second hand and flip of a digital display is a reminder we are on the clock and life is moving forward.
While we tend to think of our time as something we count up in years, the truth is, we are all counting down to the end. For this reason, it is vital for us to see the end from the beginning.
Scripture urges us to number our days and redeem the time, indicating God's care and concern for how we spend our time and energy.
Every day we make trade-offs of time, energy, affection and money for, well, our lives.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Does't thou love life? Then do not squander time for that's the stuff life is made of."
Labor Day offers us a place and time to review and reflect life "on the clock."
The average American worker invests 1,811.16 hours each year at work.(1) Multiply this over four-plus decades and you'll give nearly 80,000 hours of your life at work.
Given this reality and the high-value trades you make, be sure you don't lose perspective on life and work.
First, don't trade your life for your job! While work is vital and important, too many give away too much for perks, promotions, performance and larger paydays.
There are several myths that easily ensnare your mind and heart when you step into the marketplace.
Myth #1: Being successful is what makes life meaningful.
Clearly you want to work with diligence with the goal of a good return on the investment. But thinking a larger profit margin and a broader platform in the marketplace will make life matter or meaningful is a myth.
Your self-worth does not depend on your net worth or your network. Your life has value and meaning because you are made in the image of God. You were made to know God and to glorify Him. The knowledge and service of God brings significance and lasting satisfaction. Career achievements will never substitute for a vibrant relationship with God.
Myth #2: Success is the sum total of your promotions and earnings.
NO! Achievements without relationships produce empty and unsatisfied lives. Relationships, not riches, make life complete. Choosing to neglect or abandon your family, deciding to compromise your character, and ignoring the role of faith in life and work are foolish trade-offs.
Myth #3: Security is found in what you possess.
Solomon wrote, "A rich man's wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination" (Proverbs 18:11). Wealth brings false security. In Luke 12:15, Jesus provided a terse, tweetable truth for us all to consider: "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Don't trade your life for your job! And next, don't waste your life in your job.
There's value and virtue in working hard, saving, serving, investing and giving. Success, however, does not lead to significance, but service points to significance. It's been said, "Who you work for is more important than what you do."(2) Your job is a place where you can serve God, His purpose and people for the glory of God.
I'd like to suggest several ways to see and seek God's G-L-O-R-Y while living on the clock.
-- Get the right perspective. Work and worship are not enemies, they are friends. There are no part-time Christians. Every day, every place and everything you do is to be done fully, wholly as unto the Lord. This makes work holy. The greatest profit in your labor is that of pleasing God.
-- Let your light shine. Work is a place where worship is expressed in witness. See Matthew 5:16. You are a missionary in your marketplace, put there by God's providence to bear witness to His Son.
-- Offer each task as a service to God. As A.W. Tozer wrote, "It's not what a man does that determines whether His work is sacred or secular, but why he does it." Service doesn't have to be liturgical to be spiritual. See Colossians 3:22-24.
-- Return God's portion to His work and invest in His Kingdom. The apostle Paul challenged the Ephesian church to refocus from getting to giving. See Ephesians 4:23. Giving is a way to distribute your profits and seek partnership with God in your labors. You will never out-give God.
-- Yield to God's purpose. Contentment comes when you recognize and trust in God's rule over your life. All jobs have one thing in common -- work! You may get weary, frustrated and, at times, disillusioned. Yet for every believer there is this confidence: "My times are in Your hands" (Psalm 31:15).
(1) Maurie Backman, "Here's How Many Hours the Average American Works Per Year," Dec. 17, 2017 at 8:18 a.m. - https://www.fool.com/careers/2017/12/17/heres-how-many-hours-the-average-american-works-pe.aspx
(2) Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert, The Gospel at Work (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013).