There’s a passage in the “Good Shepherd” gospel from today’s lectionary (JN 10: 12-13) that has me thinking about the power of intention. It says the following: “A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.”
I have always been blessed with fulfilling work that I have, therefore, done motivated by love – of the people I encounter and the work itself. In that way, I understand the shepherd who “knows” his sheep, able to tell one from another and willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe. But I am thinking this morning about people who work in jobs that are onerous, yet necessary to allow even a subsistence lifestyle. I presume it would take a very strong will to be able to be happy in such a situation. It would necessitate digging deep to find a purpose for getting up in the morning. It has been said that “Happiness is an inside job.” Thus, there must be something deeper than the work itself to motivate the worker.
As I write, I recognize that this truth is universal and is definitely an aspect of one’s character and attitude. Think about the clerks in a store that you frequent. Two people who are paid the same salary may be quite different in the way they greet you or work the checkout counter. It’s the same for heads of large corporations. So while I would like to see a more equitable pay scale and better conditions for workers, I come to the conclusion that if one has a rich inner life anything can be a blessing if it moves us toward acceptance and even love.
Let us pray today for an appreciation of the dignity of work and all workers as we examine our own attitudes toward what is our own work in the world. Let our intention be the building up of community in whatever we do and what we achieve, not for our own glory but for the good of all and the praise of God.