Having a good work ethic is not only the secret to success, it is scriptural. Long before he became a traveling preacher, Jesus was a working man, just like his earthly father St. Joseph. In fact, he was so well known as a laborer, his lifelong friends were astonished when he spoke with authority in the temple. He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son?” Mt 13:54-55.
We don’t know if Jesus enjoyed his work as a carpenter, or what specifically led to his career change – maybe it was the push he received from his mom at the wedding feast in Cana. What is very clear is Jesus’ respect for the laborer and dignity of work. Most of his important parables centered on labor – from shepherds, to field laborers and servants who either performed responsibly such as the story of the talents, or servants who betrayed their employers and suffered the consequences.
Msgr. John Urell, pastor of St. Timothy’s Parish in Laguna Niguel believes that all work is a blessing – whether you enjoy it or not. “To be able to work is a blessing, especially if you can use your talents for the good of others.”
A job that is meaningful and fulfilling is a grace and a blessing. But sometimes work is just plain hard, boring, or aggravating. When the job gets rough Msgr. Urell suggests, “Each day offer up your work to God and ask for his guidance. Thank Him for the blessing of a job to support yourself and your family. Use your work for the good of others – regardless of the circumstances.”
Taking pride in a job you don’t enjoy is a special challenge, but also an opportunity for extraordinary graces. Mother Teresa, who on the surface had one of the most difficult jobs imaginable, did not measure the value of work by great accomplishments or personal satisfaction. She said: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” This doesn’t mean one should stay in a miserable job forever, but it does point that our labor has value and should be done primarily as an offering to God.
Teaching children to appreciate the dignity of labor should begin early. Children required to pick up after themselves and participate in household chores learn a huge life skill. Personal responsibility and respect for others fosters a good work ethic. Taking care of their belongings and learning to be kind to everyone regardless of their income or status instills accountability and empathy, the building blocks of a successful life.
Also remember the day of rest. Attending Sunday Mass as a family and paying attention the messages helps sync our daily life with our spiritual journey. God speaks to us in the silence, we need to create the space and time to be able to hear above the noise. Investing time in prayer is the opportunity to express our gratitude for the good and ask for guidance on the not-so-good. Then we can truly go in peace to love and serve the Lord.