I can still feel the cool, early morning dew brushing against my legs, and hear the plunging of my hoe into the soil around me. Oh, the memories of my first job! For those individuals who may not be aware of the task of “walking beans,” the basic premise merely consisted of walking through rows of soybeans with a hoe and removing weeds—good, manual labor at its finest! As an active 4-H member in the Midwest, it didn’t take much to know someone who owned farmland, and summertime provided the perfect opportunity for a kid to earn some money.
This job may sound dreadful to some people, especially when thinking about muddy shoes, sore muscles and sunburn, but this first job held positive things too—like a paycheck! My parents taught me to have a good work ethic, but this job also helped me to understand this concept even better from my encounters with “that one girl” who didn’t really work. Seeing such a discrepancy not only occur, but actually be tolerated, helped me to truly value hard work, but also left me feeling confused about the vast differences in attitudes toward work.
In all of my I-can’t-believe-I-just-turned-40 years, I have come to the realization that jobs have pros and cons, but tolerating any job, or even better yet, finding joy in it, begins with a missional mindset. Maintaining a laser focus on the mission helps with perseverance during the bad days, frustrations and less than glamorous jobs. Trust me, I have experienced plenty of moments when I could have bailed or just “gotten by,” but then I remembered a Bible verse imprinted on my heart and my focus was clear again. Colossians 3:17 states, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (NIV) When approaching work with a missional mindset, even if the job changes, the mission and the boss remain constant, because the mission is to glorify the boss, our Creator.
Choosing to recognize that all work is for the Lord causes an attitude shift, so even though the tough days are still tough, they are viewed differently. A former director of mine used to say that bad days were “character-building” days. After briefly wanting to punch him in the face, I quickly realized the truth in those words. God not only knows actions and words, but also the attitudes and motives in the mind. Refining the mind to focus on God will lead others to see Him too.
So, when knee deep in the mud of life with the scorching sun flooding down, embrace Scripture and focus on the mission. Hardworking employees reflect favorably on the boss, and others need to see the God whom we serve.