Since I write my blog posts a couple weeks in advance, I’m now thinking about Labor Day since that’s when this will appear. For some reason the words to the Beatles’ tune, “A Hard Day’s Night,” come to mind: “It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog…. I should be sleeping like a log.”
Actually, having a dog, the phrase “working like a dog” doesn’t compute well for me. Our Chihuahua-terrier mix is 16 years old and sleeps about 23½ hours a day now. She’s the one that’s sleeping like a log. I suppose when the “working like a dog” cliché originated, it was in reference to shepherd dogs energetically herding sheep, St. Bernards faithfully searching for lost skiers, or German Shepherds or Doberman Pinchers trained for war or law enforcement.
But often we hear people complaining of “working like a dog,” whether they’ve actually observed a dog at work or not. In any case, it’s clear that’s not a good way to be working. I’ve always figured if you really feel you’re working like a dog, you should investigate another line of work.
I’m fortunate to have found myself in a profession that, while it’s required hard work and long hours, has been extremely rewarding and fulfilling. I started as a newspaper editor for a small community newspaper, being an editorial staff of one. Then I worked on other newspapers, before becoming a magazine editor, followed by opportunities to write freelance articles, author and edit books, and even do a weekly email workplace meditation that’s sent around the world and translated in more than 20 different languages.
This work has been demanding, sometimes tedious, often stressful, but I’ve never felt as if I were “working like a dog.” (Actually, since dogs can’t write, the analogy doesn’t seem to fit anyway. I have written about dogs on occasion.)
So as we celebrate Labor Day, it would be nice if everyone could find work that not only paid the bills, but they also found enjoyable. Something about which to feel enthused and passionate. For some that’s a fantasy, an impossible dream. But it’s still something worth aspiring to.
At the same time, there’s another kind of work worthy of consideration, work with results that will endure past the next deadline and won’t have to be revised or redone when the boss says so. It’s work that will last forever.
Jesus described this in John 6:27 when He said, “Do not work for the food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then He added, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” This doesn’t mean simple intellectual assent, but transforming faith, since anyone that has truly met Jesus Christ can never be the same.
We invest our working hours to earn money to buy food that will consumed and immediately forgotten. That’s necessary, of course. But sometimes we keep fruit, milk, vegetables and bread too long and have to throw them away. There’s nothing quite like the fragrant aroma of rotten eggs or spoiled potatoes, right?
So we’re to work for “food that endures to eternal life” – what’s that? This has a number of meanings and applications, but one thing for certain: Jesus was discouraging us from devoting 100% attention to the pursuit of position, prestige and promotions, or material targets like houses, cars and toys, things we have one day and can easily lose the next.
That’s why Christ also said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Are the activities you’re engaged in – your work, as well as hobbies and pastimes, everything that consumes your time and energy – things that will enhance your life and the lives of others not just for today, but for eternity? If so, that’s noble, worthwhile work. Stuff of which legacies are made.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com
, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com
. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.