I like to encourage people whenever I can. Most people in the world don’t get much encouragement.

So last December when an aid in the ER took excellent care of my 94-year-old dad who had fallen that night, I wrote to the CEO of the hospital commending him (and I told the aid I did that when I saw him in a store. You should have seen his face light up).

When a waitress did an outstanding job serving my wife and me not long ago, I told her I would email the company to commend her (and I did).

And when a young man working at the local Lowes took great pains to make numerous perfect cuts on a dozen pieces of Masonite for me I called Customer Care and gave him a glowing report. I only share these examples because as a believer it’s one way of letting my light shine and a way to cultivate gratitude in my life.

So I recently said this to the barista in my local coffee shop:

“You realize how important your job is, right?” He looked at me with a puzzled look, as if to say,

“Oh boy, what’s this guy going to say now?”

I said, “You are making it possible for the coffee farmers in South America and Africa to make a living. As well as all the people who transport coffee, like the shipping companies and dockworkers and truck drivers. And you are providing a great place for people to come and read and relax and meet with people and have conversations.

You’re providing a place where local artists can hang their work and other people can come and purchase art to beautify their homes. Because you are working here there’s a place where local musicians can come and play and I can bring my wife on a date. So you’re not ‘just’ a coffee barista. You’re making an important contribution to the world.”

He looked at me like I was a little bit strange. But hey, I’m 63, I can be a quirky old guy. And I like to hope that deep, deep down inside he was encouraged.

Think of how much better our lives are because we live in a world where we are dependent on others. Think how much we benefit from the talents and work of others. We have doctors and hospitals and electricity, heat and water for our homes. Our lives are enriched by music, books, movies, football games, PlayStations, iPads, wind chimes, carpeting, crock pots. Look around your home or apartment. How much has your life been enhanced by the labor of others?

We can go to restaurants and enjoy the cooking skills and service of others. College students benefit from the knowledge and expertise of their professors. Hospital interns grow through the expertise of their mentors.

A word to Moms of young children. You have probably the most labor intensive job on the planet. In His providence, God is pouring out blessings on the world through you and your labors with your children.

First, you bring your children joy, and comfort and provision and health and laughter. And through your children you will touch the world in thousands of ways. You may not feel like you’re doing much of significance, but I can’t think of anything more significant than influencing the lives of our children. I hope you feel God’s pleasure.

Every good gift and every blessing is from God. In His providence He uses the gifts and labor of others to enrich and bless all of our lives.

So remember, your work is holy. Your work is from God. You may feel like your job is not that important, but through your work, no matter how insignificant it may seem, God will bless others. If we could only trace down the tapestry of God’s providential care for us and the multitudes of ways He provides for and blesses all people through common ordinary work we’d be amazed.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

Work heartily today, as for the Lord. Don’t do it just for the money. Do it to contribute to the good of the world, to bless others, to enrich others. Your work is important to the Lord. He will providentially use your work to bless the world. Remember you’re not just a barista. Or mechanic. Or waitress. You’re enhancing others’ lives for God’s glory.

My meditations on work and God’s providence were inspired by Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor, in which he teaches on God’s purposes for work and creativity. I highly recommend it.

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