Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Purpose of Work

I was really challenged today to consider the reason for my labor. Certainly as a priest I try to bring people closer to God. But so often my daily work, the everyday things I do, can seem unconnected to that goal. When you think about the gospel today (Mark 10: 28-31), it is clear that Jesus spoke about doing things for His sake "and for the sake of the Gospel". This should be part of the reflection on the "things" I do each day.
Whether it is office work, interacting with staff or parishioners, even composing this blog, I need to keep my focus on why I am doing these things. Ultimately, I want my labor to have as its purpose the creation of a greater unity with God and others. No matter what I have to do physically, mentally, etc., I need to keep my focus on the reason I am doing it. It is especially important when things become routine, since it is easy to just fall into a pattern and do them to get them done.
But as I continued through my day, I wondered if the people who assembled the car I was in had any idea that their labor would be helping me get to a conference that would impact my life and, I hope, the lives of others. Did the individuals who packaged the aspirin realize that by doing their job, they would help me get rid of a sinus headache so I could concentrate and understand better what was being said? It is amazing when you think about it. The fruits of our labor are not just found in our salary. After all, how much of that is really ours? So much of it goes directly to the government, utility companies, mortgage, insurance, etc. It is really just passing through our hands for a time, and a short one at that. No, the real fruits of our labor last much longer. And the more we can focus on the real purpose of our labor, the better chance we will have to understand that that way we approach our work can have a real impact on the result, for ourselves and for others.
I hope that we will all take some time today and ask ourselves "What is the purpose of my work?" How is my life and the lives of others affected by what I do? And, as I work each day, how am I accomplishing God's will for me through this labor?
If we can only try and see that accomplishing God's will and bringing about a stronger unity with God and others is the real purpose of our labor, I think that our world will be a brighter, less stress-filled place. And we just might get more accomplished as well!

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