“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” This was quarterback Tim Tebow’s mantra as he was preparing himself as a young football player in Florida. He would often do 300 push ups a day knowing there were other more naturally strong and gifted athletes around that he might have to compete with in the future. His hard work paid off once he stepped onto the field and ultimately went on to win the Heisman Trophy.
My dad was the youngest of eight, born and raised on a tobacco farm in Eastern North Carolina during the Depression and World War II. I don’t know if you can say that a hard work ethic comes naturally to farm boys – I think it is developed because they have no choice – but, regardless, my dad was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known. When he was 50 years old, he realized that a lifetime of working in agriculture to raise 7 kids of his own had left him with nothing for the future. So he made the bold move to begin a career in one of the most demanding fields around – the restaurant business. He spent the next 15 years of his life working mostly 14-hour days on his feet, eventually rising to become one of the most successful, respected managers (and later, franchise owner) for Golden Corral. The older I get, the more profound my respect for dad who is now at Home with The Lord.
I wasn’t raised on a farm but guess where dad arranged my first job when I was 14? Tobacco farm. I spent the next three summers cropping tobacco before graduating on to the “city job” of working in a restaurant my junior and senior year of high school. By that time, my head was already in the clouds with dreams of one day becoming a fighter pilot. Those hot fields and that hot kitchen seemed like a million miles away from anything aeronautical. But it taught me how to work hard and I even won some respect along the way. That can be tough to do when you’re the boss’ kid. This work ethic has served me well ever since because it just seems I’ve got to work harder at so many things that others easily grasp.
The Bible has something to say about hard work. 1 Thessalonians 4 instructs us to work hard not just to take care of ourselves but also to win the respect of those who are not Believers. As a Christian, my work ethic matters because I represent the Kingdom. I want to do all I can to “live up to the Family name” and that takes hard work. My life vision (“Eric served God in his time, then he went Home”) will take hard work to be fulfilled.
I got my work ethic from my father. That’s not an original idea. In John 5, Jesus told the Jewish leaders he got his work ethic from His Father when He told them, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.” This exchange was not long after He told the disciples they were reaping the benefits of others who had worked hard. What about you? What’s your work ethic like? When others see you working, are you winning their respect? Are you working hard for the right reasons? Are you willing to get after it for the Kingdom so that others might reap the benefits of your hard work? Try this mantra to keep you going: “Work Hard – Win Respect!”