Giving Thanks for Work, and McDonald's

When Monday comes and this long holiday weekend is over, are you likely to be one of those happy to get up and hustle back to work? Or will you feel more like me—a bit grumpy, a bit slow to the starting line?

I love my job, but some days require an attitude adjustment before my face and words reflect it.  I love the opportunity to work, and I am grateful for the physical and mental ability to do it well.  Yet I am not one of those people who naturally, innately, reflect an attitude of love and gratitude in all I do.

Sometimes when my attitude needs a serious adjustment, the Lord gives me the grace to remember a short stop at an Atlanta McDonald’s and an encounter with a man whose attitude and work ethic were—no hyperbole here—heroic.

It was late in the evening, well after 10, and I was driving back tired from a long day of work in south Georgia.  I needed coffee, and to get rid of the last coffee I had consumed.  I got off at the toney West Paces Ferry exit of I-75, hoping for some high-end caffeine, but the McDonald’s was one of the few options still open, so that’s where I stopped.

As I entered the men’s restroom I heard singing--a soft, low, baritone.  The voice belonged to a man who was scrubbing the wall tile with a small brush.  He was working hard, attacking the grout vigorously, but at the same time singing a soft, slow hymn.

He spoke to me first, asking me if I’d had a good day.  Yes, I responded, a good, but very long day.  Then I performed the expected courtesy and asked him about his day.  His answer was epic.

He said he was so grateful that God had blessed him with this job, and had given him the strength to do it.  He said that day was a gift from God, and he was grateful for it all.  

That man lifted my spirits in a way no coffee ever could.  As I drove away toward Chattanooga and home, I thought about this man’s true work and value.  His job description was to make dirty restrooms clean, but his work was of far higher importance.  He was an ambassador for the kingdom of God.  He was a faithful servant, multiplying his one talent into far more.  He was a minister, loving God and loving his neighbor.

As we offer thanksgiving today for God’s many gifts, let's remember the blessings of work that give us opportunity to serve others, provide for our daily needs, expand and nurture our relationships, and express our creativity.

Jesus said the greatest commands are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Our work provides a platform to fulfill both. 

By Bill Stiles, CIFW Co-Founder/bstiles@chattfaithandwork.org