Learning the value of work
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (NIV) Colossians 3:23-24
Work is something humans generally try to avoid. At least, we try to avoid doing too much of it. I know I am no different. Whether it is chores around the house, assignments, a job, or just about anything that requires my time and energy, I try to minimize it. However, I recently read the book Bendigo Shafter by Louis L’Amour about an American pioneer from the eighteenth century. His story gave me a new view of work.
As a young man, Bendigo Shafter travelled west to Wyoming with a wagon train, fighting off Indians and battling the elements. As winter approached, the group of pioneers driving the wagon train, which was just a row of ox-drawn wagons, decided to settle where they were, rather than pushing on any further. As they began setting up their new village, Bendigo was made responsible for building a cabin for one of the widows, which he did, and did well.
The next summer, Bendigo was sent to buy cattle for the town. This did not involve paying for the cattle and putting it on a train. No, he and some men he had hired drove the cattle for months, horseback, back to the town. Upon arriving, he found the town had grown, and there was trouble with some lawless men. The town needed a marshal, and Bendigo was voted to do the job. So Bendigo became town marshal, which, in those days, meant risking his life every day. These experiences were what caused Bendigo to grow into a man.
Later, after being back in the eastern states for a time, he was travelling with another man on his way back to Wyoming. The man commented to Bendigo, “I just figured I’d do better [out here]. I wasn’t making anything back [East], just workin’ sunup to sundown on the farm”.
“It will be the same here”, Bendigo replied. “Wherever a man is, there is work to do. That’s the best part.”
“The best part?” the man asked incredulously.
“The very best part. My friend, there is a Hell. It’s when a man has a family to support, has his health, and is ready to work, and there is no work to do. When he stands with empty hands and sees his children going hungry, his wife without the things to do with. I hope you never have to try it.”
Bendigo’s comment stuck with me, even after finishing the book. Instead of avoiding work like we do, we should thank God we are able to work, and that we have work to do. We are blessed people, so let us show it in our work, by working as if we are working for God.