2 Thessalonians 3:6-9, 12: 6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he[a] received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
Our family loves Chick-fil-A. No, seriously, our family loves Chick-fil-A. Especially the youngest and oldest members of our family. That would be Chresten and our six-year-old, Libbie. Chresten has an affinity for sauces, which Chick-fil-A is notoriously known for. When we were first married, it took me a few months to realize, “It’s not actually my cooking. He just loves to put sauce on food!” As you pull through the drive-thru and pick up your food at the final window, you still have one more stop, right? The sauce station. This station thrills Chresten as he politely requests one of each (or two of each, depending on the order). Our Libbie squeals each time we actually consider Chick-fil-A for, gasp, dinner. (For me, Chick-fil-A doesn’t feel like a dinner place, but more of a meet-for-lunch-with-your-kids-in-tow kind of place.) She is a lover of their nuggets and waffle fries. The bonus for her would be actually eating inside the restaurant so you can play in the play area with other grubby little kiddos and trade your kids’ meal toy for Ice Dream.
I enjoy Chick-fil-A for a rather ridiculous reason. This reason is seeing their sea of workers flurry about to serve the customer. Yes, my love language is Acts of Service. Few things delight me like seeing people busy, working hard for a quality result. Imagine that! A restaurant that has clean tables, floors, and bathrooms, a refilled beverage that I didn’t stand in line for, an accurate order of hot food (with just the right sauces, of course), and trash receptacles that are emptied when necessary. These consistent details are the evidence of well-trained, eager-to-work employees, who consider it “their pleasure” to provide excellent service.
Hard work. Excellence. Determination. Good service. Quality. Such things are rare to find in our western culture and a high commodity when discovered. Have you noticed that you pay more at Chick-fil-A than many other fast food chain restaurants? And yet the line to enter the drive-thru is consistently pouring into the street! Why? Quality stands out in a crowd of lackluster performance.
Quality stands out in a crowd of lackluster performance.
As I read in Paul’s second letter to the Church in Thessalonica, I see him provoking the believers there to work with increased diligence. Paul and his ministry team had visited Thessalonica and, after they left, received word that some of the believers were becoming lazy. They wanted the benefits package of being a part of the community of believers but did not wish to pull their own load. He called them “busybodies”, “disorderly”, “not working at all”.
Have you worked on a team, whether at your job, in a community effort, as a family, or as part of a ministry outreach where there were lazy people, sitting around, and “supervising”? In the back of your mind you’re thinking, “this job would be so much easier and get done so much more quickly if only he would get up and help!”
Or perhaps you are in that category, unaware that others are looking to you to help and do your part, but you’d rather sit down or socialize. You might stand up to assist with one task, but then quickly find the closest exit to avoid any further expectations. The phrase “work smarter, not harder” might be a favorite for you. “That’s not my area” gives you permission to kick back and eases your conscience, feeding your lack of self-motivation.
“…no human being is born with the desire to work hard.”
The news flash here for those who find themselves slacking on a regular basis is that no human being is born with the desire to work hard. This task of labor was put upon us when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. It’s the plea bargain deal that came with a fallen nature. Hard work is hard on the flesh. Most people enjoy lounging by the pool or kicking back in the recliner more than sweating and putting forth a lot of effort. It’s human nature. Avoid work to relax more. But Paul reminded the Thessalonians: if you don’t work, you don’t eat! (You didn’t know that was in the Bible, did you?!) Paul said, “Hey, we are in authority over you as God placed us there. But you didn’t see us slacking off when we were with you. We worked hard, day and night, as an example to you of how you should work.”
Our work–our hard, diligent, excellent work–speaks well of us, but it also speaks well of the Father. Character, developed by the Word of God and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, is showcased in the person who will work hard, promote excellence, stay until the job is complete, and then show up alongside a brother or sister to help them carry their own load. It’s a lack of maturity or an excess of ego that thwarts a well-honed work ethic. When you clock in on the job, it’s time to showcase the character of Christ in all you say and do! How you complete your assigned tasks at school speaks to the Word of God in work in your life. Helping out around the house, whether you’re a spouse, parent, or child, acknowledges: it’s a privilege to be a part of this family and live in this house.
The bonus? When you work to please the Lord, and Him alone, you will have motivation to complete the task at hand with a pure heart before Him. Paul further urged his brothers and sisters in verse 12: “do not grow weary in doing good”. The reward system set up by the Father includes favor, promotion, benefits, provision, and so much more! And I can tell you from experience, the kind of favor God dispenses is never at the mercy of a jealous human being. His favor trumps all promotion from man!
But how can I train myself to work hard? I don’t feel like it.
- Ask the Lord to show you what needs to be done. The first course of action is seeing the need. If you don’t see the need, you won’t get up to do the work.
- Once you see the need, pursue a way to fulfill it. Some things you don’t have to pray over! Find practical ways that you are personally equipped with to get the job done. Or find someone to link up with to start AND finish the job.
- Don’t sit down until the job is finished and done with excellence. Sure, you could do it halfway. But then you’ve created more work for someone else just down the road. They’ll have to undo what you partially completed only to begin the job all over again. Go the distance. Do it with all your heart, as unto the Lord.
- Ask God to give you a heart to serve. If you’re too big to serve, you’re too small to lead.♦
Step up! Put your hand to the plow and give it all you’ve got. Your work will shine forth as an example to those about you that the God in you is worth serving.
(And if you need more training, I know of a great little restaurant chain that is up to the task!)
Let’s get to work!
This post is part of a seminar series Bridgette teaches on practical leadership skills in the local church. Need a guest speaker to further equip your church’s leadership, both staff and lay leaders? Contact us today!