I, being the idealist I am, always look for significance. If I’m visiting friends or if I’m washing dishes. The thought of “What am I doing this for?” follows me. I have hoped so many times that ,at some stage, it will get easier to accept the tasks, ever present. But to be honest, it’s difficult. I struggle to accept the “just because” reason behind working and living. I look for meaning constantly.
Recently, I spent some time in King Solomon’s way of seeing things. Ecclesiastes, to be honest, can be depressing. Here, he continually carries on about how nothing has meaning. While reading this book I desperately started looking for the positive. This is the Word of God, after all, there must be significance to these words… Then I found this verse: ”Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot.” (Eccl 5:18, NIV) Taking in consideration that this man was recognized for having received wisdom from God, these words mean a lot. ”…to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor” and the fear of God is the only things he recognizes as being worth anything.
Are you intrigued yet?
While trying to sharpen my life coaching skills I started paging around in a business focused book called “Leadership – The Care and Growth Model” by Etsko Schuitema. In short; the book focuses a lot on the bottom line laborer, the person who is doing the work, and the dignity they deserve. In the book a story about a comb-maker is quoted, these words stood out to me: “My work might seem crude to you, but it harbors a subtle meaning that cannot be explained in words.” (Taken out of a book on the city of Fez in Morocco, Titus Burckhardt). Right there, I could hear the significance the comb-maker found in “his toilsome labour”.
Even though industrialization could have taken much of the art of work away. I believe that God can give those, who seek His will, the satisfaction we need in our work or daily task. Because see … no one will ever answer a switchboard again, like you do. Whether you data capture or change diapers. Whether you top manage a company, or sweep the floor. Whether you clean your house, or skill fully guide your children through school. Your daily task adds significance.
You were there today! You did it, and that changed the world.
In the next verse in Ecclesiastes our wise king continues: “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart” (Eccl 5:19).
The enjoyment and uniqueness of the daily task is a gift He wants to give us. He knows we need it, He made us that way.
Let us ask Him for the gift of happy handiwork. Maybe your job will change, maybe it won’t, but your heart will.
May the work of your hands be glorified today, and every day. May you experience the full satisfaction of life through the gift of the work of your hands.
May your perception of the work that flows out of your hands, never be the same again.
Written by Johanni Meiring