It is Labor Day today. That’s Labour Day here in Canada. It struck me this morning that among all the holidays Labor Day is unique in that we celebrate it by ignoring the very thing it is all about. On Christmas we remember Jesus; on Canada Day or Independence Day we think about our nations; on Thanksgiving we count our blessings and give thanks; on Memorial Day or Remembrance Day we remember those who died while serving their countries. But on Labor Day we do all we can to not labor and to not think about labor.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about labor, about work, and this formula has been in my mind: “disposable time + disposable income = ?” I haven’t known exactly what it equals, but I know it equals something. It has to. It probably equals something a little bit different for each of us.
We live at a time of amazing privilege. Almost all of us have the luxury of disposable income so that after we have paid our taxes and paid our bills and put a check in the offering basket, money remains. For some that amount is far greater than for others, but almost all of us have at least something left over, whether it is enough to head to Disney once a year or just enough to subscribe to Netflix. This puts us in a unique place in human history. Even the poor and middle-class among us have privileges today that rank with society’s elite from days gone by.
And it’s not just money that we have in abundance. It is also time. Many people today survive, and even thrive, on a 40-hour work week. Maybe in your case it is 50 or even 60. Regardless, even with that number of hours you have time to spare, time to dedicate to a hobby or serving at church or hanging out with your family or making use of that Netflix subscription.
When you take disposable time and you combine it with disposable income, something is going to happen. It is too powerful a combination to do nothing.
As I ponder the effect in my life, I keep coming back to the word entitlement. In my life disposable time + disposable income = entitlement. As I have lived in a culture where so many of us have an abundance of time and money, and as I have benefited from doing labor that allows me both luxuries, I feel a growing sense of entitlement. I begin to believe it is my right to have more money than I need and my right to use time in self-serving ways. I find that I begin to desire more of each.
I would prefer that my mind would go to opportunity, and this is how I am challenging myself. Disposable time + disposable money = opportunity. It represents an incredible and unique opportunity to do good, both through serving and through giving. It is an opportunity and privilege to be faithfully and joyfully stewarded.