King Saul could have been called the King of Excuses. From the time Samuel told Saul he would be king, almost until his death, Saul had an excuse for just about everything. He couldn’t be king because he was from the smallest clan in the smallest tribe. He sacrificed when he wasn’t supposed to because Samuel was taking too long to get there. He didn’t kill animals he was told by God to kill because he was saving them for sacrifices. And on and on. Saul had excuses for why he couldn’t do what God wanted him to do and excuses for why he disobeyed God.
Excuses are one of Satan’s best weapons. From Adam until today, we seem to think excuses will either get us out of doing something we don’t want to do or keep us from getting punished when we do something wrong. Reading the Bible though, gives us a picture of a God who is not fond of excuses (to put it mildly).
A strong work ethic isn’t necessarily about working harder or smarter. It is about being the kind of worker God has called Christians to be. Not only in our secular roles, but also in our Christian service and testimony.
A little research has convinced me the four main components of a strong work ethic are honesty, personal responsibility, self-discipline and perseverance. For our children to have a strong work ethic, they need to be trained to incorporate all four qualities into their lives. Unfortunately, the list doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as helping our children develop their talents or encouraging their creativity.
Know the fastest way to get a child to whine? Make them get up and do a boring chore while they are doing something they love to do! Let’s face it, work can be boring. If it’s physical work, you can become sore and tired. Mental work can cause mental exhaustion and even headaches. The problem is, God calls us to work and work hard. Not to receive forgiveness for our sins, but because we want to do what God calls us to do.
Employers, teachers and other leaders will tell you the children, teens and young adults they work with are beginning to show severe deficits in their work ethic. Interestingly, if you do a little research on what skill sets are considered part of a strong work ethic, many of them are also Christian values. Could that be one of the reasons God calls us to have a strong work ethic? Can the way we work in our jobs point others to God? I think besides work keeping us occupied in productive rather than destructive behaviors, the way we work can indeed not only glorify God but also point others to him.
I am going to tell you a secret about me my closest friends probably wouldn’t believe. I am incredibly lazy. I mean if I had my way, I would employee dozens of servants and lay on the beach all day. Quite possibly every day. Unfortunately, my husband would probably not be thrilled at having to try and finance such a lifestyle and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t make God too thrilled either.
In life, balancing the ideas of work and play are difficult. Most of us struggle with either working ourselves so hard our bodies rebel or spending so much time in leisure activities we neglect some more important things. The church has the same problem. How much does grace really cover and how much “work” does God expect from us? We can’t figure out how to teach our children the concepts, partially because we aren’t sure what to teach them.
Thomas Edison is probably the modern day king of perseverance. It is said he tried 3000 different prototypes for the light bulb before he was successful. He is known for his quotes like, “Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration” and “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”. Would we have the light bulb today if Edison had given up before that 3000th try? Probably, but it may have taken someone else several more years to discover it and who knows what other discoveries would also have been delayed.
Successful inventors, artists, entrepreneurs and parents will tell you one of the secrets to their success is perseverance. In anything you do in life, there are moments where it just seems impossible to go on. The task is too difficult or the solution is too hard to find. The temptation is great to give up and move on to something else. Behind many people, there is a string of unfinished tasks, “quit” jobs and broken relationships, all because they gave up rather than persevere until they could successfully reach their goal.