You yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” –II Thessalonians 3:7-10
I don’t know how he did it, I will try to tell you in these moments together, because there is so much we can learn from him. I’m referring to my father, who was often able to get jobs when jobs were hard to come by.
Dad learned how to work through the School of Hard Knocks. At the age of eleven, he became the breadwinner of a family consisting of his parents and their nine boys and two girls. Grandpa had a stroke that disabled him for the rest of his life.
So Dad went out and got whatever after-school jobs he could find and went to work. It was hard work. Dairy farming and hard labor jobs. But, even though his father was not able to work, he made certain his children knew how.
He instilled life principles that served his children well. He taught them that, on any job, they had to get a system to what they were doing. It would take time initially, but the benefits would far outweigh the temporary inconveniences.
In a page out of my childhood, Dad was working in a lumber mill and earning a decent living. But the neighbor across the street was earning twice as much as Dad. He told Dad that there was an opening for an ironworker in the mill where he was employed.
Dad asked, “What’s the name of your foreman?”
He said, “Glen Stevens.”
The next morning, Dad made his way to the mill where our neighbor worked. The only entrance was through the personnel office.
“May I help you?” asked the not-too-friendly lady at the desk.
“Yes,” Dad said. “I need to talk to Glen Stevens. Can you direct me to him?”
The lady led him out through the mill to where the ironworkers were working.
Dad thanked her then said, “Mr. Stevens, I understand that you need a good man to work for you. I’m very interested in the job.”
Mr. Stevens asked, “Have you ever done any iron work?”
Dad said, “No, but I’ve never taken a job in my life that I couldn’t learn to do.”
Mr. Stevens said, “Are you a member of the Ironworkers Union?”
Dad said, “No sir, but if that’s what it takes to do the job, I’ll join.”
Mr. Stevens said, “Grab a hard hat from the rack over there and let’s go to work.”
It was a good job and Dad was able to make better provision for our family. It was also a good lesson for this pre-teen boy. By following Dad’s example, I, too, was able to find jobs that provided skills I needed to learn.
In the book The Perils and Parables of Pastor Preechet, the pastor’s secretary, Alicia Callahan, is a good model for anyone desiring employment, and it went well beyond job performance.
She worked hard at developing her skills. She was willing to take a drop in wages, to work for a cause she believed in. She had chosen good role models to learn from. She dressed modestly.
Although it wasn’t in her job description, she always arrived fifteen minutes early to have fresh coffee ready when the pastor arrived at the office, and she guarded his time to help minimize interruption. And she was willing to take the risk to do the right thing at the peril of the wrath of the chairman of the board.
Work is not about “What’s in it for me?”
True work is about “How can I contribute to make your business succeed?”
It’s all about good attitudes—and that’s good!