I asked my Mary to do a guest post for today.....
With all of the lists that flood Facebook news feeds as of late, I am shocked that I have yet to come across one titled “5 Reasons Why Your Work Ethic Matters”. If this list does exist, I am confident it is only career related. So when mom asked if I would write a guest post on her blog, I graciously decided to fill this void in the cyber world.
Where does my inspiration come from for this list, you may ask? Well I just graduated college (thanks mom and dad!). I think I spent my last semester listening to just about every peer of mine (ok, ok, I fell into this category sometimes, too) complaining of senioritis. Well, maybe not complaining. More like excusing whatever lazy action felt “right” on senioritis. And, it’s weird. My sister and her husband are both pharmacists and, last I checked, there is no biological cure for this obviously common disease. So I’m prescribing my own cure…cause, let’s face it, this is the closest I will ever get to becoming a scientist anyways.
So in my close (and purely scientific, of course) study of causes of senioritis, all of the symptoms seemed to point to our world’s focus on two major things: instant gratification and correlated success. In other words, why would anyone want to do anything that wouldn’t either make him happy in the moment or ensure a successful career down the road? Sounds bogus, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m big on incentives. God created us that way (Matthew 6:19-20, Luke 18:22, Malachi 3:10, Romans 13:1-14). But God also called us to “work heartily as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23)…no matter what rungs of the corporate ladder that may help you climb.
So this brings me to Reason #1 why our work ethic matters: obedience. Hard work is a commandment of the Lord. I don’t really hear people questioning commandments not to murder or cheat, but for some reason, this one seems to be up for debate. Need some inspiration? Don’t look up to CEO’s or politicians, “go to the ant, o sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).
Reason #2 why our work ethic matters is worship. Working hard is an opportunity for us to give glory to God. One of my favorite stories is that of a man whose job was to clean out sewage tanks. Unlike other people in his industry, he would wade down into the nasty tanks himself because that was the best possible (although not necessary) way to clean the tank. When asked why he does this, he replied “because I clean tanks to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 6:7, Ecclesiastes 9:10, Colossians 3:17). Need I say more?
Reason #3 why our work ethic matters is stewardship. Working diligently is a wise use of our days here on the earth. (2 Timothy 2:6, Proverbs 6:10-12, Genesis 2:15, Proverbs 12:11). Ephesians 5:15-17 says “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” One of the most foolish mistakes that I frequently make is listening to the lie that how I spend an hour here and an hour there doesn’t really matter. But did you catch that verse above? The days are evil! They will rob us of opportunities to glorify God if we are not vigilant and intentional to be wise with our time. And hard work is Biblical (another topic for another day is overworking or being too focused on your career but I’ll trust everyone’s interpretation here!). I am a big fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote: “How we spend our days is, therefore, how we spend our lives.”
Reason #4 why our work ethic matters is character-building. Every decision that we make plants a seed for future decisions. Did you ever glance over to someone else’s exam? Or rescind on your acceptance of a roommate or job offer when a better one came along? What about leaving the piece of trash on the floor that just barely missed the trash can when your NBA moment failed? Those decisions matter. One of the many great examples that my mom has set for my family and me is that she never fails to return the grocery cart to the cart return. That’s because she knows that each little decision plants a seed for future big decisions (Luke 16:10). I think that this reason was probably my biggest motivation for finishing my last semester strong, despite the fact that I was taking one of the hardest classes of my life (who knew International Economics and Finance wasn’t a crip course?). I wanted to practice self-discipline and work habits that will follow me for the rest of my life.
And the final, and maybe most counter-intuitive Reason #5 is generosity. We should work hard so that we can give more away. This may seem to go against my initial argument that we should work no matter what the financial or other kind of rewards may be, but the fact of the matter is that hard work often does result in some sort of gain. I made this reason the last one because the first four argue for working hard no matter what the outcome, but this reason accepts the reality that many times there is a reward for hard work. This, in turn, allows us to bless others. (1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 4:28, Luke 12:48). I am beyond honored and excited to begin my career working for one of the most generous corporations in the country, and if Truett Cathy isn’t the picture of using his hard-earned success to give generously to others, I don’t know who is.
One of my favorite verses is Ecclesiastes 2:24, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil…” – did you get that?! A secret bonus reason why we should work hard is that it will produce JOY in us! Is that cool or what? I remember running cross country in high school (PSA: yes, it is torture) and being absolutely horrible at it. I only did it to prove to myself that I could do it and to finish something strong. I never won a race, but I will always remember the JOY that I felt when I would get to the last quarter mile of a race and SPRINT to the end, gaining remarkable distance between me and the shadow of the person behind me that I could see. Who knows, that shadow might’ve been a parent running after me to hurry up and finish so that they could shut down the race, but nonetheless, I felt JOY knowing that I had “run the race with endurance” (Hebrews 12).
So I hope, if nothing else, you will find some inspiration to keep working hard at what you do. I’m not saying senioritis is not incredibly tempting or that our every day tasks and to do lists are not going to ever feel trivial or frustrating again. But with all of the Scripture listed above, we can no longer use ignorance…or senioritis…as an excuse for not working hard.