There’s more to be celebrated on Labor Day weekend than the last blast of summer and the coming of another beautiful autumn.

It’s time to celebrate working folks—not just the ones who own or manage businesses, but the ones who work for them.

Even Labor Day is a busy workday for those who bag groceries, work in restaurant kitchens, checkout customers at retail stores, bus tables, haul garbage, patrol our streets and highways and defend our country.

They are the front line workers who take our abuse when we don’t like their bosses’ policies or when the equipment malfunctions. They are the ones who often work combinations of jobs to make the rent or pay tuition or keep the kids in sneakers and braces.

They are the ones who show up even when they don’t feel well, the ones who stay as long as it takes to get the job done. Many will start counting the days this Labor Day until they’re laid off for the season.

I like to say there is honor in all work, no matter what kind of work it is. As we pause this weekend to celebrate Labor Day, I am reminded of the following thoughts:

If you put your garbage at the curb this morning and it is still there when you get home from work tonight, I’m betting you’ll be pretty upset.

If you go to the grocery store this evening and the shelves aren’t full and no one’s around to check you out, I’m fairly certain you’ll be angry.

If your car breaks down several miles from town and you can’t get anyone to come out to fix it or tow it to a garage, you’ll probably blow your top, especially when it starts to rain on you while you walk home.

You probably wouldn’t want the job of picking up other people’s garbage, stocking grocery shelves or fixing today’s high-tech cars. And you really don’t want any of those choices as a career.

Why? Because they are not very glamorous or exciting jobs. Or so we think. The pay might not be very good, the working conditions aren’t ideal and the work itself tends to be monotonous. Unless you take pride in your work.

The people who do those jobs are rarely called heroes or heroines. But they can be villains when they don’t do the work on time, or when we want it done, or as well as we want it done. Our economy works only because there are people willing to do the thankless jobs.

Chances are, parents don’t dream at night that their sons and daughters will grow up one day to be the local garbage collector, the stock boy or the neighborhood laborer.

Instead, we dream they will grow up to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, ministers, entertainers or even professional sports stars.

There is honor in all work. We may have many jobs over a lifetime. We may not have liked some of those jobs, but they taught us something. It might have been an appreciation for those who do that type of work.

We are products of our environment and our experiences. As we celebrate Labor Day this weekend, let’s remember that all work is honorable.


About 30 years ago, Helen Marshall wrote the following message titled Whatever Your Gift.

What is that you hold in your hand? Nothing, you say? Look again.

Every hand holds some special gift—a hammer, a broom, a pen, a needle, a hoe, a scalpel, an artist’s brush, a microscope, a violin’s bow, a way with words in the giving of faith and hope.

What is that you hold in your hand? Whatever your gift may be, it can open your door to abundant life—you hold in your hand the key. Use it wisely.


As a new school year starts, tens of thousands of teachers begin with motivation and great expectations. Here’s one story.

On the first day of school, a teacher was glancing over the roll when she noticed a number after each student’s name, such as 113, 130 or 138.

“Wow! Look at those IQs,” she said to herself. “What a terrific class.” The teacher promptly determined to work harder with this class than with any other she ever had.

Throughout the year, she came up with innovative lessons and assignments that she thought would challenge the students, because she didn’t want them to get bored with work that was too easy.

Her plan worked! The class outperformed all the other classes she taught in the usual way.

Then, during the last quarter of the year, she discovered what those numbers after the students’ name really were: their locker numbers.