Etched in my memory is a particular fall day in the mid-70’s, we had worked in our large garden from early morning harvesting squash, pumpkins and the last harvest of various other vegetables; pulling up the plants that had finished producing and preparing the perennials for the New England winter. Physically taxing for a 10-year-old – digging, pulling, lugging what seemed like 50 lb. squash into the attic for storage but at the same time I was learning. I remember trying to figure out better ways to get those enormous (in my little eyes) Hubbard squash up the pull-down attic staircase. The biggest impact of that day happened that night after a shower and our traditional Saturday night meal of baked beans, brown bread followed by bread pudding for dessert. Crawling into bed, putting my head on the pillow and realizing that I had worked hard, extremely hard, all day. I was completely physically exhausted. And I loved it!!
That was the first day I understood the blessing that can be found in work. It is a gift. Hard work has been a requirement for me since an early age and I can now say, “I am thankful.” I have not chosen the same circumstances of work over relationship for my children, but the lessons I did learn from a childhood requiring hard work have been beneficial.
The decades since have sharpened the perspective of that 10-year-old. I worked that day because it was required by my parents. I have had jobs over the years where I worked to pay bills so that I could eat and live indoors. I have had jobs simply because I could do them – not because I wanted to do them. But the simple truth remains, “work is good.”
Sadly, that is not a common sentiment. Based on a recent survey, only 20% of American employees are enthusiastic regarding their jobs. If work is good, why is this statistic true? Many people work in a field that contains zero interest for them, doing tasks they are not uniquely designed to do or being shackled to salary requirements due to financial situations. Thus, the beauty and benefit of work is tainted. Add in greed, unkindness and unethical behavior and work can become miserable.
I can also tell you about days where I resembled a couch cushion. Doing nothing meaningful, entertaining myself with worthless movies or scrolling through mindless posts. And I was exhausted at the end of the day. The difference between the two “exhaustions” was joy. Work brought joy.
As I have grown and matured, my realization of the importance of intentionally working has also grown. There is a conditional component, an “If…then” part of work which is applicable to both individuals and organizations. If we take the time and effort to discover our own unique design then we will be able to pursue the right career, industry or environment for us. If businesses take the time and effort to discover the specific needs of their organization then they would be able to hire, develop and retain the right people in the right positions.
We are each wired in a specific way. Ask any parent with more than one child and they will tell you there is something different hard-wired into each child. Sometimes an ability or interest of one child seemingly came “out of the blue”. There are some activities that energize one person and completely drain another. The truth is that each person on this planet is wonderfully, uniquely created!! We each have our experiences, our perspectives, our motivators, our skills, our values, our personalities that make us, who we are as individuals.
Work gives each of us the opportunity to produce, encourage, teach, learn, love, help, serve, share, impact, etc. It brings purpose, dignity and joy to each day.
Now get back to work, doing what you were created to do! :-)