Tinsley column: Labor Day is more significant this year

Bill Tinsley
More Content Now
ThisWeek group

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

*****

This weekend is Labor Day. The scorching heat of summer has broken. The air is light with the first hint of fall. The lakes are still warm enough to ski and the fishing is good. As usual, friends and family will gather in parks for volleyball, football and frisbee while hamburgers sizzle on the grill.

But the pandemic has changed things. School classrooms and hallways that normally burst with energy at this time of year host students nervously muted with masks. Some schools remain empty and closed. Early mornings that normally echo with the thud and smack of football practice and the distant rhythm of marching bands remain eerily silent. In many places “Friday night lights” are dark. Stadiums should be packed with fans cheering their teams on to the World Series and kick-off for the NFL. But this year they remain empty.

All of this makes Labor Day even more significant. The laborers and minimum wage workers are the heroes. They are the ones who are carrying us through this dark valley. On this weekend, we celebrate those who have kept our grocery stores open with shelves stocked, those who deliver our drive-through and carry-out orders along with restaurant staff who prepare and serve us at distanced tables. We honor the postal workers who deliver our packages and mail, the first responders and hospital staff who care for the sick. Most of the time we fawn over celebrities. But on this day, the common worker takes the stage. And, in 2020, we recognize their essential importance.

On Labor Day I think of my father, a blue-collar worker who started out trimming grass around telephone poles and worked 35 years for Bell Telephone before his death at age 53. His example of honesty, generosity and hard work inspired me. I think of Jesus, who chose to spend most of his adult life working in a simple carpenter’s shop in Nazareth. Jesus elevated the role of laborers and craftsmen for eternity.

This year, many are being forced to take jobs that are not their first choice. Some who trained and studied for years to launch a professional career are accepting jobs that differ from their dreams. It is important that whatever job we find that we give our best. The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Many Americans are discovering, after decades dominated by greed and materialism, that the value of labor is never truly measured in monetary return. The way we choose to invest the labor of our minds, our hands, our hearts and our energy will produce fulfillment when the object is not our own self-gratification but the service of others. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant … just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. His book, “Upon This Rock,” is free as an eBook on Amazon Sept. 2-6. Email bill@tinsleycenter.com.