“All work is empty save where there is love. And when you work with love you bind your self to yourself, and to one another, and to God. It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth. It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house. It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.” ~ Khalil Gibran, The Prophet …
For many of us, work is not a labor of love, but rather a means to an end. We go to work to earn money to pay bills, to purchase things, to have a night out or go on vacation, to save it in investments, or any number of similar things. Unfortunately, this view of work robs us of so much of the value, power, and potential we have available to us through finding passion in it. Still, this does not mean that our work is a waste of our time if we do not love it. After all, it is providing us with things we want. In addition, I do not think that Khalil’s use of the word “empty” is synonymous with the idea of wasting time, but rather suggest that such work is unfulfilling and unrewarding.
Of course, it is important that we recognize that doing our work with love is not the same thing as doing our work that we love. After all, we can do our jobs with love even when enjoyment is absent or we dislike them. I still to this day perform busy work–some of which serves no substantial purpose. However, the gratification from this work, or lack thereof, depends solely on what I have given to it.
Life has tasks, requirements, and duties for us, and it is important that we find purpose in such busy work. I personally find it helpful to ask myself, “Can anyone else perform this work exactly as I do? And if so, will they?” This provides clarity and helps me to stay focused on doing my best and turning the work into a personal triumph, something that I can be proud of. In addition, if I am doing my best by contributing my unique abilities and perspectives, then it certainly is not doing “empty work.” A cashier, server, or janitor can brighten someone else’s day with a kind word or a smile. It really is all about finding fulfillment in our work.
By bringing love to our work, we can add much more purpose and meaning to it. Share your unique gifts, talents, and abilities with others–at your job, in your community, at your church, in your garden, and in your home. By doing so, you will guarantee that work is never empty.
Put love into all the work you do today.
Questions to consider:
What does it mean to you to show love at whatever type of work you are doing?
Why do so many people separate concepts like love and work in their minds and in their lives?
List three ways that you might be able to do your work with more love.
For further thought:
“The beauty of work depends upon the way we meet it–whether we arm ourselves each morning to attack it as an enemy that must be vanquished before night comes, or whether we open our eyes with the sunrise to welcome it as an approaching friend who will keep us delightful company all day, and who will make us feel, at evening, that the day was well worth its fatigues.” ~ Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood, Outlined from Memory