The Joy of Laborership

Dwight Robertson

July 29, 2022

You’ve most likely seen it: two workers on the same job—one smiling and whistling, the other gruff and grumbling. Something within causes us to ask, “What’s the difference?” Is one just having a bad day? Is it job satisfaction, home life, or personality? Maybe. Those are all reasonable explanations for the disparity between likability and irritability on any single workday. Or has one discovered the joy of laboring? 

Finding the Joy of Laboring

What’s the difference between those who joyously approach their work and those who, quite frankly, are somewhat difficult to be around? The answer: focus and desire. Those who find joy in laboring are those who find purpose and pleasure beyond the work at hand and any personal glory or gain.

Tireless and Painstaking Tasks Can Be Joyful

An eight-member heating and air conditioning crew finished the painstaking task of installing a completely new HVAC system in our recently acquired fixer-upper home. Fitting new systems in old houses is never easy. The crew worked tirelessly for 2 long days. They sweated, strained, even choked, and coughed as they struggled with odd fittings and leftover dust and dirt that come with old houses. The crew, though young in age, completed the job with great diligence, skill, and… joy.

My wife, Dawn, and I were quite impressed and grateful for the team’s work. At the end of the second day, we gathered the crew to say “thank you” with some cold drinks, fresh-baked treats, and words of commendation.

How Do Words Impact Your Work?

“We just wanted you to know that your labor has not gone unnoticed,” I told them. “We can’t say enough about how hard you’ve worked, how respectful you’ve been, and what a great job you have done.” The crew smiled and seemed to really soak in the gratitude and care.

Then, the foreman of the crew spoke, “Dwight, you don’t know how much it meant to hear your words and receive the goodies you have given us over the past two days. But tonight means everything because we live and work the way we do for one reason: to hear only positive comments at the end of the job.” Something far beyond a paycheck motivated these young men to work as hard as they did with the attitude they displayed. They understood and experienced the joy of laboring. 

The Joy of What Is to Come Helps You Finish the Work

Maybe that was why Jesus could “endure the cross and scorn its shame” (Hebrews 12:2). The excruciating task in front of Jesus gave way to His desire to please God and benefit others. And what an agonizing endeavor Jesus took on. Can you even imagine the horrific weight of sin He shouldered, the loneliness and separation He experienced, the intolerable physical and emotional pain He endured?

 And yet, Hebrews tells us that the “joy” of what was to come enabled Jesus to finish the work He began.

  • Perhaps it was the joy of a “Well done” from the Father that helped Jesus persevere.
  •  Maybe the joy of knowing that salvation’s work would forever be complete kept Jesus pressing on.
  • Perhaps seeing the joy that freedom brings on such faces as yours and mine helped Jesus endure each crushing blow.

Whatever the fullness of “the joy set before Him,” this we know: What enabled Jesus to keep enduring and laboring was His focus and desire to please God and benefit us. Quite simply, Jesus was motivated by real and unadulterated love—He knew the joy of laboring for a greater purpose.

Such love keeps us doing the hard things (and even the agonizingly painful things) willingly, lovingly… joyfully. With such love, the focus becomes not on how difficult or easy our work is but on how much what we do will please and benefit the one for whom we are laboring.

The need for everyday laborers in God’s Kingdom is great. That being so, consider these 2  challenges:

  1. Let the motivating force of your laboring be a desire to please God and benefit others.
  2. Let your laboring be filled with and marked by… joy.

Do you find joy in laboring for Kingdom impact? Ask God to start speaking to your heart about the impact He wants to make through you.