It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.—Benjamin Franklin
One of the many reasons we wanted to move our family out to a hobby farm was to work. To work? Why would we want more of that? Because between Dave’s job and the kids’ school, we all had enough mental work. We needed to get outside and use our bodies.
But besides the obvious benefits of physical exercise, work also exercises our character.
Going out into the cold morning to do chicken chores teaches that what must be done is best done joyfully (one of my favorite sayings from Caroline Ingalls). Scooping out the coop shows that dirty jobs are no less important than other jobs (and it provides free fertilizer for our garden). Wrestling the 2-man auger into submission with your brother requires team work and communication. Setting up square foot garden areas puts that math you learned in school to good use. Filling those gardens with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt instructs us in pushing ourselves farther than we want to go. It also teaches that many hands make light work. Laboring in the heat to harvest meat chickens gives the satisfaction of working as a family to fill our freezers with healthy food. It also gives appreciation for the food we eat. After planting an orchard ourselves and waiting years for it to grow, I am sure that the first fruit we bite into will be sweet, indeed.
I think physical work is especially important for boys. Living in the city, it is harder to find chores to burn a boy’s energy and develop his muscles. Learning new skills and accomplishing hard tasks grows their ability and confidence. Sports can do this to a degree, but meaningful work accomplishes it on your own time table with tasks that will benefit throughout a lifetime.
A wonderful book written for boys, but with great application to males and females—both young and old—is Created for Work by Bob Schultz. Full of the wonderful life lessons that come to us through work, this book gives chapter after chapter of humourous, wise, and example-filled stories of instruction on how to work in the right way. It is great to use for family discipleship time, or a gem to read for leisure.
If one of your family members thinks work is a bad word, this is a great time to teach how to put off wrong thinking and put on right thinking by memorizing Scripture. Here are just a few of the many great verses about work:
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (paraphrase: no worky, no eaty)
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Proverbs 14:23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
So the next time your family needs to do some work out in the yard, don’t view it as just a job to get done; see it as a way for God to use work to work in you.
PS Here is an entertaining music video made by a farm family who knows how to work and have fun: