My sis and I have been reflecting (in our at-least-thrice-daily conversations on the phone that take place in between screaming, demanding children, folding laundry, and a million other things) a lot about "work".
My sister works two days a week (outside the home) and bumps into all facets of the working world. She notices: secretaries, bosses, peer lawyers, janitorial staff (sometimes she has to work after hours to get projects done),(on her breaks and running errands she sees...) fast-food workers, grocery store employees, highway workers, dentists, bank tellers, construction workers...I mean, think about how many workers you run into in just the course of your every day life?
I don't get exposed to quite that many people on a daily basis, but recently, I got a job at night (after the kids are settled) at a local children's clothing store. I am getting to know the other workers as we unbox, refold or hang, and display the clothing. I am finding out about their lives, their work ethic (very good, all of them) and about other places they have worked.
We (sis and I) have really come to the conclusion that NO job is menial. Every job is important because every thing we do has a snowball effect on all of society. True, there might be varying degrees of repercussion depending on what's at stake for each, individual job...But my main point is this:
Do whatever job you have well, and you will be rewarded. Do it well and you will make others happy. Do it well and others will maybe follow your example which will improve ALL of mankind. Do your best, and you will do no less than glorify God!
I could list and link to a bazillion examples but I won't bore you with that, I'm sure you are thinking of one right now...aren't you?
I will give you one example:
When I go to the store (any store) and I see something not where it's supposed to be, I grab it and bring it up to the cashier. I didn't always do this before. I used to be one of those people who would change my mind about something and set it down any, old place (this was before I had children!) not caring about who had to pick it up and put it away eventually. Of course, I would justify this by saying (to myself) "Well, what do they pay their employees to do, anyway?". Yes, that was a real stinky attitude to have, but no one showed me any different. Working at this job has shown me that even in a small store, one thing out of place is a terrible inconvenience. I have to take the time to figure out where it's really supposed to go, bring it there, put it away nicely, then straighten everything else around it so it looks like it belongs there. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but multiply that ONE item by several dozen and now you have loads of time being taken on this task that could have been avoided had those people just been considerate and put it back where it goes in the first place! Also, (snowball effect example) I am taking time away from what I SHOULD be doing which is processing new things that have come in...so I can get them into view...for the customers convenience and pleasure! If I don't get to THAT, then the boxes just get stored until someone has time to open them and process them out onto the floor. See? The customer who willy-nilly threw clothing around the store just cost themselves the chance at seeing new merchandise a little earlier, won't buy anything new for a while (because they've already seen what's available), the store loses money, can't pay their employees, goes out of business, the customer moans and complains because that was their favorite store, and everybody loses! Okay, I exaggerated the scenario a bit, but it applies to almost every occupation out there in some way.
If my husband does a poor job, people could die. The workers could be careless and lose their lives, the buildings could collapse and kill many people and destroy millions of dollars in property. Oh yeah, and if he did a poor job, he wouldn't have that job long and our family would be on some kind of welfare and taking money from people who decided to do a GOOD job, keep their job, and pay into the government to cover for people who don't make that decision.
I like this encyclical. It's one of my favorites (heehee, said as if I sit around all day reading encyclicals like SOME people I know!)
Here is something from the first paragraph:
"Man is made to be in the visible universe an image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth."
When I read this, I thought that it was interesting that he talks about other animals (creatures) and how they merely "work" to sustain their lives. He almost seems to say (in a way) that sustenance is not enough to be called "work". That "work" sets us apart and should be considered a noble effort...the noblest, because we are made in the image and likeness of GOD!
And God does NOT do shoddy work.