Dad taught me about Work
Diligence â€“ Dad works hard at the things he attempts, and keeps at it. Even if I hadn’t seen this part of my Dad growing up, I sure would know it from watching him develop the Refuge.
Work is not more important than the family or ministry. Many men struggle with this, but my Dad learned early to put his family and the Lord ahead of his work, and lived that out by being available when we needed him.
Be disciplined; set a schedule. My Dad created patterns of living that enabled him to keep doing hard things every day â€“ we could set the clock by his arrival home from work, and (as much as my freewheeling nature dislikes it) I find myself falling into some of the same patterns, guarding my work from laziness and other distractions.
Have staying power â€“ stick with it even when it is hard. Dad often required me to continue working at something long after I wanted to give up. Those lessons learned have stood me in very good stead in my job, where tenacity and ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ often make the difference between success and failure.
If you want it done right, do it yourself. As a perfectionist, Dad knew this truth; that sometimes, it is better to do something yourself if you are particular about how it is done. His example was more positive that it sounds â€“ he wasn’t flamboyant or in-your-face about it â€“ he just would quietly go off and take care of it himself.
How to be an over-achiever. I’m not sure where Dad learned this, but he often said it to me in various ways: â€œDon’t settle for mere achievement, be an over-achiever.â€ Dad knew that sometimes there was a substantial edge over competitors in the workplace by going above and beyond the requirements of a task (he called it ‘over-alping’), by demonstrating true excellence. Following my Dad’s example has netted me several promotions and raises, over the years.
Guard your integrity â€“ don’t steal time from your employer. Dad always was willing to put in the time and worked hard at whatever work he was given. Often serving in administrative roles in the Army Chaplaincy, Dad sometimes worked long hours and had to prepare for preaching or teaching on his own time, while some of his peers rolled that prep-time into their workdays. This is something I reflect on often, as I strive to give my employer good value for my pay.
It is good to work with your hands. Dad always showed a willingness to get his hands dirty and never pretended to be ‘too important’ or ‘too busy’ to do the jobs that nobody else wanted to do. He was always the one who had to clean up illness-related messes around the house, and helped me to understand the way that a true man of God is a slave to others.
Do even unimportant jobs well, as though God were checking up on you. Related to Dad’s philosophy of ‘over-alping’, Dad took pains to put his best work into even the most trivial jobs. As a result, he was in good practice when it came time to do important work, and he has been given many important things to do. As the scriptures teach:
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:23)
Guard your time from work. As an outgrowth of his desire to make family and God more important than work, Dad knew that he had to protect his time from being consumed by his employer. One clever way he did this was to join a carpool when he worked at the Pentagon (he was there for almost 11 years, I think). Leaving at a set time and being beholden to others helped him to set limits on what his bosses could ask of him, an example I have followed in my current job.