There are certain things in life that I just don’t want to do. Mowing the lawn comes to mind. In fact, I find that pretty much every day I run into things I don’t want to do – but if I put things off the lawn gets overgrown, the cars stop working right, and the sermon doesn’t get written.
What’s worse is realizing that no matter how good my intentions, putting things off eventually becomes a flood of issues. What was once an important task has now become a crisis, and since I’ve got a dozen of these crisis issues I truly do feel like I’m in melt-down.
Ever been there?
It doesn’t help that our entire culture is wrapped around the idea of getting out of work. Everybody seems to live for Friday’s and complain about Monday’s. We strive to get to retirement where we can just play until we die. We think of “work” as a nasty four-letter word. But we really shouldn’t.
After all – didn’t God “work” when He created the heavens and the earth? That means it should be a good thing! Didn’t He give Adam and Eve a job to do BEFORE they messed up? I mean, take a look at these words: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15) Keep in mind this was done BEFORE Adam blew it and sinned. He was given a job to do even before Eve was created. He didn’t even have a “honey-do” list. I mean, we were built to be busy, designed to DO something, created to care for something long before we even had a family!
So – work is not a bad thing. Being occupied with something was built into the creation. Now, it is true that after Adam and Eve blew it our work became much harder. It is true that life before Adam sinned was a different kind of work.
Still, I really think our greatest obstacle facing our work every day isn’t the effort we have to put into our labor, but our “unwillingness” to be there in the first place. We have so conditioned ourselves to believe that work is a bad thing that we resent our employers as if they somehow “make us” work. I’m not saying that all jobs are wonderful or that all bosses are fair. There is a practical side to finding an occupation you want to pursue. There is a very real time when you need to get out of a bad situation – but the solution isn’t sponging off the system or trying to retire at 28 years old, or even at 68 really. I think of the greatest servants of God in history and they kept doing the job of teaching God’s truth until their dying day. For me, I plan to drop dead in the pulpit (which I imagine will be a very compelling sermon illustration when the time comes).
Ultimately, even if we’re not willing to admit it, the anti-work attitude is really resenting God! After all, if He would just do things the way we think He should we should only have to work at getting to the golf course for tee time. And if you take this thinking a little further it sounds suspiciously like a certain group of Israelites wandering around in the sand whining about God dragging them out of Egypt just to die in the desert.
Yeah, if you analyze this attitude it’s really pride, isn’t it? We don’t think we should have to work. We think we somehow deserve to have everything given to us. We think God should let all the nice Christian folks win the lottery and take it easy until the resurrection.
But it’s just not true.
The Bible actually commands us to be responsible and work for our living. But this doesn’t need to be a burden. We need to resist our resistance and when we do we will find it much easier and more rewarding to get the job done. The Bible says…
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NKJV) For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
Yes – The sin Adam passed down to us doesn’t make work any easier but this brings up a practical point. The Bible teaches that because of sin our labor will produce “thorns and thistles” as well as the goods we need. In other words, in the process of working for a living (which is a good thing) we will find some challenges (which come because of sin and that’s not God’s fault). The point is to keep the challenges from overcoming us.
So, on a practical note I’ve found that when I deal with the “thorns and thistles” FIRST, right up front, (you know, first thing in the morning, right away on Monday); well, then I find that the rest of my labor is by far more fulfilling. After all, we were originally designed to work, to form things, to “keep the garden”. We should find a fulfillment and even a joy in our efforts.
How do you do that?
Well, for me I make a list, figure out which thing annoys me most, which thing I don’t want to do the MOST – and do that first. This is dealing with the “thorns and thistles” right up front. What should we do with “thorns and thistle?” I say, rip ‘em out of the ground, burn them and get on with the real business of gaining what we need from what we have to do in life. The longer you DON’T deal with the thorns the sharper they get. The longer you put off rooting out the thistles, the more of them will grow until your garden looks like the devil’s front yard.
So I figure out which thing I absolutely do NOT want to deal with and I make myself deal with that first. I will even put off everything else until the nasty is done. And lo and behold, the rest of my day is smooth sailing. Works every time.
Just remember, God build you to be busy. Don’t let the thorns and thistles get you down – deal with them. And do it with a prayer saying, “Thank you God that you built me to be productive in life. Thank you for showing me that you can give me the gusto to deal with throny stuff. I’m going to face it up front so I can really focus on what is eternally valuable in the end anyway.”
Hope that helps you face next Monday!
Patrick C Marks is the author of the hilarious short story collection “The Far Frigid North” (Kindle price just .99, http://amzn.to/t0TCeA), the suspense novel “Legend” (Kindle price $1.99, http://amzn.to/uwHATL) and a Christian apologetics, non-fiction book about evolution and creation called “Someone’s Making a Monkey Out of You” (Kindle price $2.99, hard copy $15.95, http://amzn.to/snubN1). He is also a husband, father, pastor, and a poor excuse for an oil painter – but he likes getting his fingers colorful anyway.