It may sound like an odd statement, but I know it to be true. The ability to work, and to successfully complete that work, adds value to our lives.
God Himself stepped back at the end of each Creation Day, examined His work and said, "That's a good day's work. Well done."
Father's Day 2012 renewed my appreciation and understanding of this truth. Especially in the lives of the men around me.
It started with John's devotional at our Father's Day breakfast. He talked about his own struggle with finding balance. As a hard worker, he often wrestles with wanting things done his own way or in his timing.
John gave a great testimony of discovery from this past year. God delights in our hard work; but He refuses to let us have things our own way or in our own timing. Just isn't in our best interest, John said.
In the main service, Frank delivered an exceptional sermon. He validated the deeper questions that plague the hearts of most men the world over. Then threw out a challenge using a phrase we learned in El Salvador. "Vida Por Vida!" ("Life For Life!")
In our culture, it would reference the fact that Christ gave His life for us, now we live our lives for Him. But it's different in El Salvador.
Frank explained that the ministry we linked with, King's Castle, actually trains young missionaries to understand a deeper significance. For them, "Vida Por Vida!" means- "Christ died for me; I am willing to die for Him." (One young trainee already has.)
We worked alongside young people whose level of passion challenged us greatly! Frank asked the men of our congregation to consider that challenge. And to stand with him if they felt it a worthwhile call.
When every man in our congregation stood - shoulders back, eyes focused, faces set, hands clasped, determination blazing - I couldn't help but cry, I was so moved.
Men need valuable work in order to sense fulfillment. They need a cause. They need validation. It's built into them.
I was still pondering all this after lunch when I watched it play out, literally.
Everyone else was finishing up their meal but Spencer needed to get out of his highchair. So he and Nana stepped outside to wait. The restaurant porch was vacated and allowed me to give him total freedom within safe boundaries.
He tested the boundaries a couple of times. Nana held firm. And with those clearly established, he immediately got busy.
The veranda had comfortable seating, some low tables and several throw pillows. Spencer quickly created a task for himself. The little guy started working. He figured out how to move the pillow without tumbling over. Then he relocated it.
Once that was done, he tested the strength of the tables. He moved the pillow to see if it was more useful on the table. He put his head on the pillow. Then we had to play drums on the table and the pillow. Once the song ended, the pillow had to be returned to the sofa.
Occasionally, he would stop and we would laugh about something he found amusing. Or he would pat the pillow with a definitive, "There! That's done." And I would cheer or offer "Good Boy!"
But for the most part, he stayed very focused and intent on his "work". I could see the resolute attitude I've seen in his dad. I also spotted the determination I witnessed in a little girl who grew up to be his Mommy.
Work adds value to all our lives. God made us that way. And when balanced with healthy doses of validation and rest, work becomes a true gift in our lives.
This past week, Nick Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Frank and I watched his daring act live on TV. Don't mind telling you my jaw was clenched until he safely reached the other side.
(We especially loved the fact that his open mic allowed the millions watching to hear him saying and over, "I love you, Jesus! Thank You for this opportunity! Praise You, Father! You are my God! Thank You, Jesus!")
This was a lifelong dream. The culmination of years of training and hard work. When he completed the walk and stepped off the wire onto Canadian soil, he was met with cheers from tens of thousands who had gathered to watch.
His name will now forever be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. His hard work paid off! The world applauded for Nick Wallenda and called him a hero.
But there are other heroes around us that no one applauds or even notices:
- Dads who help find the missing shoe, again.
- Men who trudge off to jobs that have no glory but simply provide a steady income for the family they love.
- Husbands who chose to keep their eyes focused on their wives instead of the temptations around them.
- Young men who chose God over glamor.
- Little boys straining to understand the life-defining balance of work and play.
You probably have one of those men in your life. Husband, dad, son, brother, grandson, or friend. Take a moment and validate them today.
You'll never know how much that, "Good Job!" may have been needed. Or how far it may carry your hero on his tightrope of life.