Labor Day is upon us, marking the “end” of summer and the return to the grind of school and work for kids and adults both.
I wanted to explore a quote I read recently that addresses the typical American’s attitude toward labor, leisure, and life.
“Labor and Leisure: Worship and Work; Most middle class Americans tend to worship their work, work at their play, and play at their worship. That which we worship, we serve and that which we serve we will give our all...heart, mind, body, and soul" Gordon Dahl, Work, Play, and Worship in a Leisure Oriented Society.
That quote is from 1972, but I believe it is more applicable now than ever before. How many times have we heard someone (or even ourselves) say, after having returned from a vacation “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation!” or had someone say how he or she had to “work on their game” (whichever game, golf, bowling, baseball…)? Even worse, I had a coworker tell me the other day that he preferred being at work because then he doesn't have to deal with all the stuff and drama associated with being with his family.
Really? Is it any wonder it seems that our society is fraying at the edges and through the middle when our work is our primary source of solace and peace? People speak of sacrificing their career for their family, but shouldn't we consider time away from family the sacrifice for career instead? And where in all this is our worshipping God?
Talk about misplaced priorities. It seems that we as a culture have strayed from the Commandments laid down in Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your strength”. And by worshipping work, have we not violated none other than the First Commandment? “You shall have no other gods before me (Deuteronomy 5:7 NKJV).” Jesus reiterates this in Matthew 4:10 (NKJV) “ Then Jesus said to him. ‘Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’”
By worshipping work, we transfer our service and love away from where it needs to be, toward the Lord and then toward our families. It seems to me that we need to refocus our priorities to do just that. I am as guilty as anyone in this, I know I need to work at my service in Worship and toward my family.
God said to the Israelites in Isaiah 58:6-9 (NKJV) “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you clothe him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your guard. The you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry and He will say,’Here I am.’...”. To me, this illustrates how hard the Lord wants us to worship him, that it isn’t enough to simply go through the motions of worship, but we need to work to make it a part of our daily life and to shout it out to the Lord.
Our leisure time and time with our family is a gift that should be celebrated and not a chore or work that one must endure. Our work at our jobs are what must be endured; our worship is the pinnacle of it all.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this? What do you consider the best balance & how do you find it?