Work can be tough. Often, it is draining, daunting and hectic.  Sometimes it is  monotonous, other times it might be frustrating and time-consuming. Yet, it is still good.

Pope Francis said work “is fundamental to the dignity of a person” and “gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, [and] to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.”

How is work fundamental to the dignity of the human person? Because when doing good work, we can discover ourselves and participate in God’s will. Blessed Cardinal Henry Newman said, “God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission.”

Especially when young people are just starting to support themselves, they often see work as merely a way to make money. I think that’s part of what makes many young people dislike work so much. Many of us are working at jobs we actually don’t like, jobs we take just to get by in life; so when asked “How was your work day,” we either prefer not to talk about it or say, “Eh, it was work.”

But work is more than just “eh.” When someone’s dreams go beyond securing the immediate wants and needs of themselves and their loved ones, they see work as the means by which they will achieve those dreams.  Some of the most innovative ideas came from individuals who were willing to work hard for little or even no pay until their dream became a reality. For them, their work was not a means to making ends meet. The goal they were working toward was so connected to who they were that their work to reach that goal was who they were.

For example, the young person seeking a livelihood — in his pursuit of happiness — may be sweeping the floors of a warehouse or serving as a gofer in the office; but he sees these jobs as stepping stones, chapters in a much larger story.  When that story is done, he’ll be happy to share how he used to come home with shirts full of sawdust, or how he used to fetch coffee for a dozen employees. Those dusty, sweaty, humbling jobs would be part of who he has become, integral threads in his character.

In all these ways and more, work is a calling and not just a job. We may not feel called like the disciples who immediately dropped their nets and followed Christ when he called them, but we can find wisdom in their all-consuming mission to spread the Gospel. The work of the disciples was inseparable from their calling to spread God’s word. They didn’t work one job during the day and then evangelize at night. There was oneness to their lives.

Allow me to leave you with the words of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger:

 “For what faith really states is precisely that with Jesus.... The person is the office, the office is the person. Here there is no private area reserved for an ‘I’ which remains in the background behind the deeds and actions and thus at some time or other can be ‘off duty’; here there is no ‘I’ separate from the work; the ‘I’ is the work and the work is the ‘I.’”

Kilby is a freelance writer for The Monitor and editor of Rambling Spirit magazine (www.ramblingspirit.com). He is a parishioner in St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville.