Theology of Work

“Calling” for Meaning in Our Work

By Dr. Jim Thrasher and The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College (Grove City, PA). Used by permission.

The first job I ever wanted was to be a “garbage man,” as that is what I called it at age five. I would run out to the curb each week when the garbage truck came. The garbage man would greet me with a big smile and say, “How are you, Jimmy?” It was exceedingly apparent that this man had a positive attitude while performing what most would call a smelly, repetitive, and mundane job. I sincerely believe that this man—who impacted my life and whom I will never forget—loved his job because he saw beyond the required tasks and faithfully served and cared for others. For him, it had little to do with the job itself. I wanted to be just like him because, as I look back now, I sensed his service, commitment, devotion and calling.

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The Blessing of Work

On September 5, 1882, thousands of workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. The event was sponsored by New York’s Central Labor Union. According to documents from the period, workers and families marched from City Hall to Union Square, then gathered in Reservoir Park for picknicking, music, and speeches.

Several individual states established official Labor Day holidays until Congress turned it into a Federal holiday in 1894. Curiously, one labor union of that era also passed a resolution setting aside the Sunday before Labor Day as “Labor Sunday” to focus on “the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement” (Dept. of Labor).

What follows considers, not “spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement,” but biblical aspects of work in general, mostly from Genesis 2:7-15.

5 truths to help us value the blessing of work

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