Labor Day 2016: How to Celebrate the True Meaning
Do you ever wonder why we call it Labor Day when it is one of the days on which we do not labor? I sure have. Labor Day is one of the only holidays we celebrate that is seemingly named for what doesn’t happen on that day. Labor Day wasn’t always a day of rest, though. In fact, the first Labor Day wasn’t a national holiday at all. It began in the streets of New York City on September 5, 1882, when thousands of American laborers took the day off to march on behalf of the rights of workers like themselves.
Although Labor Day 2016 has lost much of the original intent of the day—and you’re probably not going to spend your day off taking to the streets with your coworkers—I have some ideas for ways that we can honor the original intent of Labor Day while we enjoy our three day weekends (for those of us lucky enough to have weekends off).
Relax and Celebrate with Purpose
While you enjoy your three-day weekend camping, vacationing, BBQing, and recreating with friends, you can do so mindfully, in honor of those who have fought for your rights as a worker. Propose a toast, or say a thankful prayer over a meal. On Labor Day 2016, raise a glass to camaraderie, banning together through activism and organizing, and those who have fought to improve working conditions in America.
"I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God." (Ecclesiastes 3:12–13)
Pray for Workers in America
Most of the time, I pray for the things I can see, my husband, the people I disciple, those I interact with who don’t know Jesus, and myself because I have to lean on God just to get through the day. For Labor Day 2016, though, I encourage you to join me in making a point to ask God for justice on behalf of workers in this country. While heaven has not yet come to earth, God is establishing his kingdom here through us, and I believe our prayers matter.
Pray for Workers Overseas
While Labor Day is traditionally about workers in America, it doesn’t have to be limited to that. Relative to the rest of the world, working conditions in America are pretty great. So take a little extra time, and pray for workers around the world, that God would care for them and improve their conditions as individuals, and that he would heal our global economy to make our world a more just place to live and work.
"Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done." (Matthew 21:21)
Reconsider Your Shopping Habits
When you spend your money on things that were made by happy workers, you support good working conditions. There are a lot of things that can guide your shopping these days: materials, organic, fair trade, direct trade, working conditions, shopping local, etc. It can be overwhelming to become an ethical shopper. I would urge you, though, to continually become a more conscious shopper, one step at a time. You don’t have to learn everything at once, but use Labor Day 2016 as a reminder to seek knowledge from reputable sources and support companies who treat their workers well. You could start by familiarizing yourself with this list of ethical companies. The simplest way, though, might be to spend more of your dollars locally, with artisans and small businesses who are transparent about their values. Gradually, your dollars will work toward positive change in your community.
Honor Those Who Work Under You
Some of you are not blue collar workers. Some of you have been set above other people by God to care for them. That’s a crazy responsibility you have, so this Labor Day 2016, take time to consider how you might honor those who work hard under you. What can you do to improve the working conditions of your flock on Labor Day 2016 just as God does for his flock? How can you put the needs of those you manage above your own interests?
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." (Colossians 4:1)
If this is already how you lead every day, then use Labor Day 2016 as an opportunity to praise God for his work in you; it is only by his power that you are able to do good. As Jesus said in John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”
Be Inspired to Work Hard
Hard work is deeply woven into the identity of this nation. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool.” Despite this national value, the reality is that not everyone in America works hard. And not every worker receives a just reward on this earth. Knowing this, take a moment this Labor Day 2016 to refresh your commitment for working hard unto God, who does give just rewards, and not unto men.
"Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." (Colossians 3:23)
As you consider the ways in which you can engage in God’s fight for justice in our world this Labor Day 2016, you can also share these things with your children and teens. It’s crucial that students learn about labor and leadership in light of the gospel. If the students in your family are not learning from a Christian curriculum, consider enrolling them at Enlightium Academy, an accredited Pre-K–12 online Christian school that equips students to become Christian leaders who trust in God’s plan while allowing them to work at their own pace through an individualized curriculum on a flexible schedule with one-on-one teacher support.