Good, Honest, Hard Work

Years ago I was piddling around in the backyard and happened to eavesdrop on a conversation between my next door neighbor and another gentleman.  The discussion was about work:  tough, physical work.  "So and so was one helluva worker," said the one.  "Once I saw him carry two 80 pound bags of concrete mix from the truck to the job site, a distance of at least 200 yards one way without taking a break during a 10 hour day.  I'm guessing he must have made that trip at least 150 times that day and never complained."   The other responded along the lines of, "This gal worked the assembly line at the plant where I was employed.  She wouldn't take any guff from the people she worked around, but she always backed it up with the highest productivity scores of anyone in that section.  Every now and then management would bring in some hotshot piece of equipment, but I'll be damned that that woman did not continue to do the work as quick and with a higher rate of quality than the machine."

As a child I associated the concept of "work" with physical strength and fortitude.  I had great admiration for those who would come home dirty and exhausted from their daily toils, knowing that the next day they would return and do it all over again.  Later I would learn that there was integrity in a variety of vocations not necessarily requiring great physical strength or endurance:  managers who guided work output, physicians and nurses who tended to the welfare of others, teachers and school administrators who taught us, and many of the ladies in our neighborhood, homemakers, who cared after their children, households, and really all of us.  Still to this day, however, I personally delight in the activities that lend to a visual and measurable sense of accomplishment such as clearing brush, building a fence, or putting in a garden.

The first worker was God.  Genesis 1: 1-15 describes the creation story and provides the first model for the days for work and for rest.  Furthermore Genesis 1:31 declares that when God viewed the fruit of His labor, He called it "very good."  God examined and assessed the quality of His work, and when He determined that He had done a good job, He took pleasure in the outcome.  By this example, it is apparent that work should be productive.  It should be conducted in a way that produces the highest quality outcome.  The reward for work is honor and satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

Next week we will celebrate Labor Day.  Traditionally it is the bookend to Memorial Day, a three day weekend that lowers the curtain on summer.  Recognized as a federal holiday since 1894, it serves as a day to honor the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country.

For many of us September 4 will bring a day of respite, a time to attend BBQ's with family and friends, enjoy the start of another football season, or take advantage of a late summer activity in a park or on a lake.  Others, especially those in health care, protective services, or retail environments will be working that day.  For those in the military who really know no holiday, much gratitude for your service time and for helping secure our welfare.

There are some who find themselves in jobs they do not enjoy and are not challenged by, yet in necessity continue to plug away.  Compensation may not be attractive and does not allow for ends to meet.  For you I hope better opportunities will come and soon.  There are finally a few who can't find work.  I pray a door and pathway will open.  

Regardless of your calling on this Labor Day, thank you for what you have built, the integrity with which you have constructed it, the sweat, determination, and sacrifice that went in to the effort, the value it has brought to society, and the way it has made life better for others.  You never know, maybe your efforts are back porch conversation worthy.

The Seed Sower


  1. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

    But. If you teach a man to lay concrete, he will make you a level and square foundation for your chicken coop, or a nice sidewalk in front of your house, maybe.


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