Workin’ for a Livin’!

“Workin’ for a livin’ (workin’) 
Workin’ for a livin’ (workin’) 
Workin’ for a livin’, livin’ and workin’ 
I’m taking what they giving ’cause I’m working for a livin’.” – Huey Lewis 

• perform work or fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary
• perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations
• exert oneself physically or mentally especially in sustained effort for a purpose or under compulsion or necessity
• function or operate according to plan or design
• produce a desired effect or result: succeed 
• exert an influence or tendency – Merriam-Webster 

Work of the People: liturgy (leitourgia): 

I was impressed with his exuberance as he repeatedly swung the pick axe over and over into the hard ground. And then when he noticed I was watching him, he stopped and proclaimed with a big smile on his sweaty face, “I love hard work!” I must confess, I was totally fascinated with his perspective on work.

I tend to think that for a lot of folks ‘work’ is a four letter word. There is a clear dichotomy: work = bad, play or rest = good. I have been intrigued with this bifurcation for quite some time and often wonder how individuals arrive upon their perspective of work. 

To begin with what is our definition of work? Webster does an adequate job of providing a technical understanding of work. Yet, as witnessed by the joyful swinging, earth pounding fella, work is so much more than the task. And that brings me to my second wondering, which is about our relationship to work. Does it give me satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of purpose, a part of my identity? Or is it tedious drudgery to navigate through to a certain end point?

One of my favorite mentors once said, “I have never worked a day in my life…and I plan to keep it that way.” Knowing that he was and had been working since his teenage years I, of course, asked for further clarification. “I love using my brain, I love using my hands, I love making things better for people.”

In my experience with the folks I walk with who have found work as an opportunity to exercise their mind, body, and – yes – soul, it is both truly engaging and deeply satisfying. Iconic of this is one of my favorite prayers from the Book of Common Prayer’s Litany of Thanksgiving, For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, We thank you, Lord. 

On this Labor Day weekend I am grateful for work in all of its manifestations. Even in the work I find most challenging, there is always an opportunity to use my mind, my hands, my heart and my soul. All of which furthers my learning and growth. Workin’ for a livin’!


4 thoughts on “Workin’ for a Livin’!”

  1. When you get paid for what you love doing you have really hit the Jack Pot.
    I really hit the Jack Pot when when I was given the opportunity to be a parish priest and even receive a salary for responding to so many wondrous opportunities.

  2. I was an elementary school teacher for 26 years. I spent most of my years teaching 2nd grade. It was definitely my favorite age to teach. I taught special needs children for 1 year. I only had 15 students, but were aged six to twelve with different abilities. I didn’t have a helper, and struggled tying to give the attention and skills they needed. The schools were segregated when I started, but that changed mid semester. A federal order said the schools had to be integrated. That wasn’t a problem because my schools were integrated in the 60’s. They moved all of the white students in 4th, 5th, and 6th to the previously all black school on one hall, and moved all of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd black students to the previously all white school. It worked well and was and still is a thriving school system. My small city made parents believe in the plan that is still in place.
    I’m glad that I was able to be a part of it.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: