“Is it supposed to rain today? I hope not. I really need the work. We didn’t get to work much last week. And I have a payment coming up Saturday. I really need to get in some time.”
The middle-aged man, slightly younger than me, sat in his car waiting for his employer to arrive. I sat on the edge of a feed bunk, taking a break from my walk. Fencing (not the sport but installing wire boundaries for livestock) is his second job; his first is milking cows for a local dairyman. Both are laborious and physically taxing.
The conversation sounded so familiar. As we talked, I couldn’t help but go back to a time when I tried to make ends meet by picking up as many jobs as I could and by putting in as much time as my employers would allow when they were paying me by the hour. Preaching, working at a local retail building supply store, stocking drywall in newly constructed houses after business hours, harvesting tobacco, installing vinyl siding, and picking up handyman jobs here and there.
A couple of memories immediately popped into my mind. There was the Friday when one of my retail employers handed me my pay check at dinner and told me to go home because they were cutting my hours that week due to slow customer traffic. I remembered the bewilderment, disappointment, and resentment. I was only making minimum wage. I remembered thinking that the 5 hours saved was not going to make or break the business. Why would they do that to me? I stayed mad all weekend.
Then there was the memory of driving 20 miles to meet another employer before daylight on a fairly cold winter morning, only to be told there would be no work that day, and that I should go home. This was before the days of cell phones. He had told me the day before that if it snowed much, I should not come to work because we would not be able to install vinyl siding in snowy weather. Apparently, “much” is a relative term, depending upon your need. Yes, it had flurried, and there was a skiff of snow blowing across the road in front of me. But in my mind, because the ground was not covered and since I needed the money, it had not snowed much.
Yesterday’s conversation was refreshing. I left it with a high respect for my newly found acquaintance. In a day and age when so many conversations bemoan the majority of society’s poor work ethic and lack of desire to perform any type of sweat producing labor, it was good to talk to a man who wanted to work. In a day and age when entitlement, a feeling of irresponsibility to repay incurred debts, and dependency upon the generosity of others seems to be the prevailing philosophy, it was good to speak with a man who is willing to accept responsibility in repaying a debt he willingly agreed to accept.
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) ESV
“We urge you . . .to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:
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