Summary: I think Labor Day should remind us that work is a blessing, & not a curse. So this morning we’ll look at work as a blessing & as a service. Finally, I’ll suggest that work is not enough.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
A. This is Labor Day weekend, & I come to it with mixed emotions because I’m not sure exactly what to do with this particular holiday.
All year long we gear up for holidays. For Christmas we try to get in the spirit of giving. For New Years we try to get in the spirit of new beginnings. For the 4th of July we get all patriotic. For Thanksgiving we try to get ourselves in a thankful mood.
But what are we supposed to do for Labor Day? If we are honoring work, shouldn’t we go to work an hour early on Labor Day & say to our boss, "I’m so thankful for work that I’m here early? I’ll work all day & late tonight, & I don’t even want to be paid for it, because I enjoy my work so much."
Well, we certainly won’t volunteer to do anything like that, will we? Instead, most of us expect to have the day off with pay. But somehow that just doesn’t fit the pattern of how we honor the other holidays.
B. Statistics reveal that if we live to retirement, that as an employee we will have worked nearly 90,000 hours of our life. Now multiply that out, & it comes to over 45 years of 40-hour weeks, 50 weeks a year minus national holidays. We will have spent that much time at our job, & that is a large slice of life.
Put that together with the fact that most people don’t really care about their jobs, & they look at their work as something to be endured rather than enjoyed. So it is no wonder that Labor Day weekend comes along & we’re not really sure what we should be honoring.
ILL. I heard a story that probably has more truth than fiction. It is about an employer who brought his employees in once a month for a pep talk. He would inform them of the future plans of the company, & try to excite them about their work so that they would be enthusiastic about what they were doing.
On one occasion he called them in & said, "We have just purchased a bunch of robots. And these robots will free you from some of the menial things you have been doing in the past, tightening screws, & so on."
Instantly he sensed from the expressions on their faces that they were concerned about job security. So quickly he added, "Now don’t worry about your jobs. Nobody is going to lose a job as a result of these robots. There will be some reduction in the work force, but that will be taken care of through retirement & natural attrition. You’ll all keep your jobs."
"In fact," he said, "this will even work to your advantage. As we perfect the work of these robots you will probably not even have to work a full 40-hour week, & you can take a day off now & then with no reduction in pay."
He said, "As we get this system perfected even more, maybe you can have two days off. You’ll only have to work 3 days a week. In fact, our ultimate goal is that the time will come when you will only come in one day a week, on Wednesdays. That will be it, & you’ll still get your full salary."
One of the employees in the back row raised his hand. He had a question. "Sir, will we have to come in every Wednesday?"