Do you ever listen to morning drive radio shows on Monday? You’ll hear The Mamas & the Papas singing “Monday, Monday.” We bemoan the fact that the work week has started again.
But you hear a different tune on Friday. It’s all about celebration. The DJ is shouting “Thank God it’s Friday.”
Is that true? We may thank God it’s Friday, but deep in our hearts we also thank God when it’s Monday.
“What, are you crazy?” you may ask. Well, stop and think about the following:
Work is sometimes the only place we’re valued and appreciated. Do you ever feel like an ATM at home? You come home from working 60 or more hours, and no one has taken out the garbage. While we may feel we don’t get the respect at home that we get at work, we can walk in on Monday and be greeted by people who act happy to see us, even if they don’t
Work is where you get your identity. Maybe you’re not mechanical, but you’re good at what you do at work. There is the adrenaline rush of a challenge and achieving that goal. What rush is there from changing a poopy diaper or getting the oil changed in the minivan?
Do we TGIM or TGIF? I believe work was ordained of God. Adam’s job was to name the animals. But after he and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the ground became cursed. You and I live in this daily tyranny of finding fulfillment in our work while also defining ourselves by our work.
Different generations see work differently. Baby boomers define ourselves by our work. We’re workaholics. Work gives us our identity. Millennials see work as a part of their identity, not their whole identity. They’ve watched their baby boomer parents work marathon hours. That’s not for them.
There are three ways we can identify ourselves: By what we do – our work; by who we are – husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother (you get the idea); or by whose we are. As a Christian, I look to the Scripture verse that says I have been bought with a price. Thus, my identity should not be tied to what I do at the Charlotte Rescue Mission nor that I am a father or husband. Rather, my identity goes back to “whose” I am.
I belong to God.
When I was first ordained to ministry, I was appointed to a small church in south New Jersey. In a neighboring town was a co-worker – a lay employee of my denomination. He was responsible for coordinating the relief and emergency disaster services for 10 counties. When I asked him about taking a day off, he looked at me as if I was crazy.
“You don’t take a day off,” he replied. As I got to know him, I learned he inherited his father’s position in that denomination. He was trying to prove to his dad that he could do as good, if not a better job, than him. I eventually
learned his dad had been dead six years.
He was trying to win the approval of a father who had passed. Work had become his taskmaster. He never let up.
Eventually, he had to take early retirement because of his health.
Work in itself is not bad. I believe it is ordained of God. But, like anything, we can take it too far and make it our “drug of choice.”
Don’t believe me? Ask a workaholic to relax and not do anything in the office on Monday but sit in the lobby. They can’t check their computer, their email or their Blackberry. You’ll bring them their lunch, but no talking to anyone. They won’t last 15 minutes. Work keeps them from feeling the pain in their soul.
On this weekend after Labor Day, remember work is good but should never define who we are.
I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well, my friends.
The Rev. Tony Marciano serves as executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission and a regular South Charlotte Weekly columnist. He is available to speak to your group. Call 704-334-4635, ext. 213, to schedule him.