Before Lyndon B. Johnson was elected vice president and then became the 36th president of the United States, he served in the U.S. Senate. As majority leader, he often worked hard and late. Another senator complained to a colleague, “What’s all the hurry? Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

“No,” said his friend, “but Lyndon Johnson wasn’t foreman on that job.”

On the other hand, Louis Brandeis, who served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1916 until 1939, was criticized for taking a short vacation just before the start of an important trial.

“I need the rest,” Brandeis explained. “I find that I can do a year’s work in 11 months, but I can’t do it in 12.” He had learned the importance of balancing rest and labor, and that working smarter is more effective than just working harder.

King Solomon recommended work. In fact, he saw it as a blessing from the Lord. He recognized those who “find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24 NIV).

Martin Luther believed, “Your work is a very sacred matter. God delights in it and through it.” His namesake, Martin Luther King Jr., said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as 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.’”

In a South Asian country, I saw a street sweeper who was actually using a broom. In that society, the dirtiest and worst jobs were reserved for Christians. But I admired the fact that he was gainfully employed.

So, on this Labor Day weekend, I applaud your work. I hope your job excites you and you find it fulfilling. If not, I commend you for sticking with it until your circumstances change. And may God bless your diligent labors.

— The Rev. Ron McClung, a former pastor of Owosso Wesleyan Church and former assistant general secretary for the denomination, is retired and resides in Owosso.

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