Happy Labor Day! It’s Time to Honor Your Work in the World

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How to Find Deeper Meaning, Purpose and Significance at Work and in the World

“For true work is love made visible.”

– Kahlil Gibran

labor day kahlil gibran quote

For many Americans, the first Monday in September marks the end of summer, the start of school, and a glorious day off work.

Labor Day weekend is a much-anticipated day of rest and relaxation, often filled with weekend road trips, neighborhood barbecues and store sales galore.

Yet beyond the long history and time-honored traditions of Labor Day, the day actually has a deeper significance which, when understood, can add a new dimension to not just our celebrations, but also to our daily working lives.

Are you sawing wood or building a cathedral?

One of my favorite parables is one about an elderly man who came upon three men working on a construction site.

The elderly man asked the first working man what he was doing, and the man said he was sawing wood. He then asked the second working man the same question, and he said he was making cement.

When he asked the third working man what he was doing, he said he was building a cathedral.

I love this story because it’s a reminder that no matter what we do with the majority of our time and energy, and whether we get paid for it or not…

We all have the choice to see our work as a part of something much bigger than ourselves

labor day woman welder

Martin Luther King Jr. once said:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

While you may never see the full impact of the work you do, you CAN choose – every day – to bring your whole heart to the work that you ARE doing, no matter what you do for a living.

As you pour your heart into your daily tasks, know that the impact of your work extends far beyond your own understanding.

The key is not just to find your purpose – you must also learn to find purpose in your work

Having a sense that your work is part of a genuine contribution to others and to the world has very little to do with what your actual job or role is, and has almost everything to do with the way you perceive your everyday tasks.

labor day finding purpose

When you choose to operate as if you are building a cathedral – and making a bigger impact – you’re more likely to use all of your skills and talents (even the ones you don’t know you have) to complete your tasks.

When you tap into all of your inner resources, you may find the hidden gems of life that come from using your natural talents… those gifts that you have that you were meant to use to make the world better in some way.

Soon, you’ll start to notice how everything you do on a daily basis has meaning and adds value to your life.

You’ll stop only looking forward to the future, and you’ll savor everything there is to experience and learn in the present moment.

Right now, I invite you to believe that you’re making a positive impact and contributing to something bigger…

And as you take time this Labor Day to relax with family and friends and soak in the last of summer, take a moment to recognize how your own work — however insignificant it may feel at times — truly contributes to the prosperity and well-being of this world, this country, your loved ones and yourself.

labor day woodworker man

Not only will having this perspective make a bigger impact in your day-to-day life, this mindset will also help you create a world in which you love living.

And now, here’s a question for you in honor of Labor Day

What are some little ways in which you can give and make a bigger impact on the world?

Exploring this question will help to clarify some simple activities that you can do to contribute to a better, brighter world.

I invite you to share in the comments below 👇🏼

Whatever our experiences may be in life, by sharing them we can help others grow, and we can expand and evolve ourselves by hearing from others, too.

So go ahead and leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

Also, here’s a free gift that will help you move into what’s next for you in your life and career, if this is something you feel called to do:

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If so, my brand new ebook, “Courageous, Bold & Free,” is a must-have resource for you!

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Categories: Inspiration

Comments (21)

  • I agree and think this quote is quite beautifully expressed

  • I was really encourage by the article. I will start putting my very best in everything I do. Thanks for encouraging me.

  • most /all personal development products out there have all goals in life to bring the person to higher levels of success in their phyical life times. Everyone dies (phyically)
    then what?? what about eternal life promised in the Bible? Is anyone addressing the goals of eternal life?
    My goal it to be prepared to have God like character be able to pray well teach others the truth and to make so $ too would be nice. any suggestions?

  • I remember my father telling me in the days when it was still called “Rhodesia” and Ian Smith (our then Prime Minister) relinquishing power to Canan Banana (the forthcoming joint Prime Minister) that if the time ever came that all I could do as a job was to shovel shit, I must take pride in it and do it to the best of my ability

  • mohana radhakrishnan

    Thank you for the well-thought-of, concise and holy message ! I am so previledged to receive it on this special day.

    May you live a long, happy life !

  • My passion is to go back to public issues forum discussions in towns that are small to medium sized. People need what I call “Compassionate Governance”, in other words, our government makes sure our communities have what will co-create healthy, intelligent, and creative problem solvers for the future. If we do not invest in the leaders of tomorrow, we will find we have invested in an oligarchy instead of a democracy.

  • Mary, I have enjoyed you, your stories, and your continued interest in us. My passion is to go back to public issues forum discussions in towns that are small to medium sized. People need what I call “Compassionate Governance”, in other words, our government makes sure our communities have what will co-create healthy, intelligent, and creative problem solvers for the future.

  • Carol Lynn

    I was once taught a life lesson by one who reached out a hands to me as Michelangelo bridged the gap with the eternal. Rescuing a male kangaroo, who was naturally defensive due to the role of other humans in his life, he halted, thought, decided what to do and held my hand in his and kissed it for helping him. I was set upon the path of my instinctive recognition that we are not the only intelligent, emotive beings on this great planet. Those considered on the fringe, who neither buy nor sell nor accumulate, have their own societies and are part of the totality of life in ways that are not always comprehended nor respected. We each live according to the spirit we were granted and to live with recognition of it is our life’s task.

  • In the same vein as the street sweeper
    “Do it (what ever it is, big or small) as unto the Lord “

  • Pam Redmer

    My mother raised us with this belief, without the how to navigate life’s roadblocks and oppirtunities so it remained a guiding light only in the mind, not in the world. Thank you for bringing it round again expanded.

  • Shona kramer

    Ah but what if like micheal angelo the street sweeper were actualy sweeping his broom in a way that only could be seen from a great distance above such as Gods kingdom as being a magnificent masterpiece of art with every sweep of his broom .only there was no medium used just done in complete imagination by the sweeper himself .which is why he always had a smile on his face and a deep inner secret as to himself and God above knowing that to people he was just a mere street sweeper but to the most important he was far far more and had people not been so blind in their minds and look down upon his worth then they would truly have seen his passion

  • I have always felt as the scripture says do everything as unto God and not unto man. I found this to be a much easier path to follow because of the fact that some of the people that I work for make you want to not do your best but if you do it as unto God not only do you please Him but you end up getting the praise of the very people that you did not want to work for. Doing right is its own reward when it’s done as unto God and not to man. We are not to be men Pleasers but the glory goes to God.

  • What a great reminder! Thank you Mary!

  • Marlene Richardson

    When you fall and you hit the bottom get up brush yourself off and start climbing again

  • A verse to a song I wrote:

    “Gifts Talents and Abilities”

    3rd verse:
    “God is always watching
    All His works His children do
    I’m sure He gets excited
    When we’re doing what He wants us to
    That’s why He gives us our gifts and talents
    Follows up with abilities
    So He can see He’s works performed
    That will last for eternity.”
    Hal Gullick
    c2010

  • Raymond Kues

    I an into my 34th year of teaching high school and just as passionate as ever. From dancing with a disco ball & Saturday Night Fever to learning about how a good web really works, my students are energized with life. Hope to keep the fire burning with the help of Christ.

  • Mary Morrissey you are so awesome!!!
    You make so much sense in everything you say. You are a rare treasure.
    I set a goal to meet you in person and have lunch with you some day.
    God Bless you all the days of your life.

  • As I said before, I live in Sana’a YEMEN
    My English language is poor, but your writing manner is so easy to read & understand
    We call this case in Arabic (assahel al mumtanea) Easy Abstainers
    Many thanks
    and God keep you and your family save

  • I love this, it moves me personally in the Spirit. Some days I fell I’m not doing God’s work with this career I’ve been blessed with. But the question is, how does the character of God show through my work? Spiritual principles can come through any task…when God is our center point of reference.
    Thank you!

  • I would like to do something to help cancer patients and the orphans

  • Dominique Byron

    I suggest you read the text article on the page – it is inspiring, and beautiful. It is all about finding purpose at work. Finding purpose helps make the path just that little bit easier, the slope just that little bit gentler. I hope this can help you. Mary is a creature of light. So are you. Trust yourself, believe in yourself, reach inside, and find it.

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