Children Can Work Hard, Too
My son got his first paying job when he was 4 years old. We had a little part-time family cleaning business to earn some extra income. My son’s job was to pull out staples from the carpet of an office we cleaned. He received 1 penny for every staple collected. On a good day he could earn $1.00—a lot of money for a 4-year-old back then. He has been working hard ever since…and so has our daughter.
Last week, we bought our 4-year-old grandson his own garden hoe. He spent almost an hour out in the garden with grandpa learning how to use the hoe to turn over the soil. He also has a little wheelbarrow he has used for helping uncle Jake clean the brush from the yard. At 4 years old, he is learning to work hard.
This all came to mind as I read Tim Challies’ post this Monday: “3 Priorities for Christian Parents.” It’s a short, good read. Before drawing our attention to these 3 priorities, he gives the following context:
I was recently reading through 1 Thessalonians and once again came to one of my favorite passages. In this letter Paul is addressing specific concerns raised by the congregation in Thessalonica. It seems that one of the matters they wanted him to address involved the simple question of Christian living: How do we live lives that are pleasing to God? How can we know that God is pleased with us? The most significant part of Paul’s response to the question comes in chapter 4.
It struck me as I read it: Isn’t this the question we ask for our children? How can they live lives that are pleasing to God? Isn’t that the dream and desire of every Christian parent, that their children will live lives that thrill God? In this section of his letter Paul provides three priorities. The priorities Paul offers to this first-century Christian church can be helpful to twenty-first century Christian parents.
Challies then points to these 3 priorities:
- the importance of sexual purity
- the priority of the local church
- the dignity of hard work
Here is some of what he says about the third priority:
Our children need to know that God created us to work and that there is dignity in all labor. Paul himself, though a pastor and scholar, an elite and intellectual, was unashamed to work with his own hands, to provide for his own needs. Paul knew this: Sin grows in the soil of idleness and a refusal to work displays a willingness to sin. He would undoubtedly agree with Spurgeon who said, “Idle people tempt the devil to tempt them.” Much of our children’s sin, especially as they grow older, can be traced to idleness, to long and lazy evenings, to an unwillingness to dedicate themselves to hard work.
In thinking about these priorities, I sometimes wonder if “the dignity of hard work” is sometimes overlooked in our parenting and in the church. We live in a parenting age that tends to cater to children’s needs—not that that is necessarily a bad thing in some sense—but we might forget that learning to “work hard” is one of their needs, too.
With that in mind, here is a book recommendation: Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men” by Bob Schultz. Here is a description:
All young men should be on the road to developing a healthy attitude toward work. Honest productive work is the backbone of strong families and blessed nations. Bob Schultz’s previous book, Boyhood and Beyond, addressed essential issues related to godly character as boys transition into manhood. In Created for Work he applies his engaging homespun wisdom, with stories from real life, to teach young men (and boys) what it means to be good workers. Created for Work inspires young men and offers the tools and encouragement they need to embrace God’s ways and always give an honest day’s work. Questions at the end of each chapter make Created for Work an excellent read-aloud book for a father and son or for group discussion.