A couple of weeks ago, I hired “Dean” to replace the leaking gutters on our home. I assumed he would show up with a team of people to do the job. After all, they roll the gutters in place, seamlessly, a custom-fit for the job. He would need help handling the 60-foot plus length of gutter into place two stories up. Nope! He had a system that included a couple of temporary hangers. I watched this guy build gutter, set it in place and scramble around the roof installing it all by himself. He ran into a few unexpected challenges and that guy didn’t leave until 10:30 at night. He continued to work with a headlamp until everything was exactly as he wanted it. He was an artist!
I’ve always loved watching craftsmen do their jobs. My dad says that when I was a little boy, I was something of a pest to the tradesmen who came to our homes. I would move closer and closer until, dad says, I was nearly sitting in their lap, asking questions. But I’m just fascinated with anyone who does their job well…and I’ve learned (and practiced) a lot about those trades just by asking lots of questions.
As we approach Labor Day, it seemed a good opportunity to lift up the dignity…and the divinity…of work. When we are in our laboring years, we sometimes dream of a retirement with lots of travel, lots of golf and lots of leisure time. But every retired person I’ve spoken to has told me…that gets old! We were created to work. God, himself, modeled that work was a good thing when he created the universe. For six days, Genesis tells us, God worked! On the seventh day, he rested from his work. When he created Adam, he created him to work and to keep the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 2:15) Take note…work was not a punishment AFTER the fall of man; it was originally a good and satisfying part of an unsullied Paradise.
The Bible speaks repeatedly of the goodness…and the importance…of work. Proverbs repeatedly chides the lazy person and extolls those who work hard. “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” (Proverbs 12.11) The psalmist blesses work. “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Psalms 90:17)
Jesus himself was tradesman; he owned a contractor’s business in Nazareth. (Every time I tour the remains of ancient Nazareth, I wonder which of those houses Jesus built!) When he called his followers, he promised to leverage their fishing skills into a new career of fishing for men. Paul, too, offers encouragement to hard workers. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” (Colossians 3.23) And apparently, when we breathe our last on this earth, our work is not done. Revelation tells us that in heaven, we will “serve” the Lord. (Revelation 22.3)
Work is good. Work is honorable. Work builds and reveals character. And…I’m afraid recent trends in our culture has dimmed this view of honest labor. I am aware of at least three restaurants in our town, well post-COVID, that still serve drive-up only and claim it is because they can’t find anyone to work. (Interestingly, the same chain restaurants in Port Orchard are fully staffed. I wonder if THAT says something about our Gig Harbor view of work. Do we Gig Harbor parents think such work is beneath our teenagers? Hmmmm…not good.)
This is a weekend when we declare the dignity of labor, especially manual labor. Whether you work with your hands or your head…whether you labor in the show room, the operating room, the work room or one of the many rooms in your home…I honor your labors! And so does the Lord. Keep working hard!
P.S.—Speaking of walking through Nazareth, I have decided to do another Holy Land trip. The dates are March 8-19, 2025. From the initial response, this trip will fill up fast. If you are interested in joining Cyndi and me, get your name on my assistant Sharalynda Campbell’s “interested list.” You can contact Sharalynda here. It will be first-come, first-served! Believe me, this will make the Bible come to life!