Does your work matter? Maybe you feel like it does. And maybe you don’t.
It’s about eight o’clock in the morning. I’m about to start work and to be honest, I’m not feeling it today. There’s a good chance you’re not feeling it today, either. In fact, a 2013 Gallup poll showed that 70 percent of us are could care less about our jobs.
Given the amount of time we spend in the workplace, that’s a problem. So, it’s worth asking again: Does you work matter?
We need our work to matter
On a typical work day, more than $123 million Americans wake up, get in their cars and drive to work. For some of us, it’s pretty easy to see how our work matters. For example, if you’re an ER doctor or the leader of a charity that feeds the poor, you know why you go to work every day.
But what about the rest of us? What about the cubicle dwellers and the store clerks? What about the guy who mops floors at your local supermarket? For people like us, work seems like one of the most pointless parts of our lives.
The good news is that most of our jobs aren’t nearly as dangerous or backbreaking as they used to be. But a safe working environment and a cushy office chair aren’t enough.
Although what we do for a living doesn’t determine who we are as individuals, our work needs to feel significant. We need to know that somehow our work matters.
There’s dignity in work
Even if it doesn’t seem like our work matters to anyone else, it should matter to us. Here’s why …
For starters, work pays for things like food. But just as importantly, work is one of the ways that we participate in creation. There is dignity in work because it allows us to become actively involved in something beyond ourselves.
If you’ve ever been out of work, you know what I’m talking about. There’s no substitute for the feeling you get when you receive an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work.
Everyone deserves the chance to experience the dignity of work
Unfortunately, there are millions of full-time workers who put in an honest day’s work but don’t receive a honest wage.
- In 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the U.S. were classified as low-income jobs. Today, low-income jobs represent more than 40% of the job market.
- One in four Americans work a job that pays $10 an hour or less.
- More than a third of the entire U.S. workforce falls into the category of the working poor – workers who aren’t paid enough to properly care for themselves or their families.
Many biblical passages talk about how workers should be paid fairly and receive a living wage. And in James 5, it says that people who have become rich by taking advantage of their workers sin against God. The minimum wage and the fight for income equality are about making sure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the dignity of work.
So even if you hate job, when you go to work today, thank God that you can experience that dignity.
And every once in a while, stop and think about those who can’t.