Re-purposing   Leave a comment

English: Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New Y...

English: Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882 (Lithographie) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the weekend I listened to a brief conversation among a couple of newscasters regarding Labor Day.  They were commenting that like many other holidays, the purpose of the holiday was forgotten.  One of them even commented that maybe the holiday really has no value in the current structure of our nation.  So I did a little research to identify the originally purpose of Labor Day.  I actually learned a lot when I looked it up in Wikipedia.  I had a vague idea of some of the ideas behind the holiday but picked up some new details in the definition.  A holiday that was started by the labor unions of the late 19th Century and then legalized by Congress as a response to the way strikers were handled by United States forces, seems to have a completely different emphasis today.  I am not going to debate the continuation of this Federal holiday here but it did cause me to think about some of the traditions that seem to be a “given” in our lives.

I have made reference to this concern before.  (See:  “Beyond Rituals“, “Authentic Worship“)  I am concerned that many times we just continue to do things because that is what we do.  How many people really understand the original reason for Labor Day?  I think most people are like myself, Labor Day is a day off for being lazy, enjoying food, and marking the end of summer.  Yet, when it began, it served a completely different purpose although some of those activities occurred.  How many other aspects of our life are similar to this?  We do it because that is just a normal part of our routine.

There is value in re-examining our activities and our traditions.  We may discover some very exciting aspects of the origins of such items and that can enrich our continuation of doing those things.  We may also discover that it is time to re-purpose those activities and traditions.  Re-purposing would not be a new concept for Christians since many of our Christian holidays are holidays that existed prior to Christ and were re-purposed by the Church to fit our beliefs.  We may also discover that it is time to discontinue those activities and traditions because their original purpose does not fit our manner of living and re-purposing would not create a new value to our lives.

This is an important area for leaders to regularly address.  Not only in the church but in the workplace or the community organizations in which we participate.  Leaders need to re-examine what is being done by the leaders and by the organization as a whole.  Decisions, though not always easy, must be made regarding the value in continuing these activities, re-purposing them, or discontinuing them.  This is a way that the organization can remain healthy, growing, and have a sense of vitality.


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