Work Ethic: An Introduction

8 Aug

One of my favorite summer activities was always the neighborhood water fight. During the hottest days of August, my friends and I would turn the entire street into a war zone. Like two armies, we’d advance against each other, sheltering between cars or trees, all in an attempt to make certain that the other side ended up wetter than we were. All of this was fun until, almost inevitably, some track star would show up with a super squirt gun that could unload fifteen gallons of water in four seconds from a distance of half a mile. You couldn’t get near him without getting rain in your face. And trying to out-strategize the quickly moving target with water in your eyes was nearly impossible. The result was the complete demoralization of just about everyone who encountered this “Moron of Mayhem.”

It didn’t take me long to discover that these sort of people continue to exist long after High School and that, thanks to their “leadership ability,” many of them find their way into positions of workplace authority. They still delight in presenting people with a moving target, constantly changing job requirements and operation standards, often without any warning. The biggest difference here, however, is that instead of a squirt gun, they have authority over paychecks, work schedules, days off, and generally anything and everything you do for the 4-8 hours that you’re in their domain.

Sadly, escaping the clutches or such people is often easier said than done. The labor market doesn’t always work in our favor and it isn’t uncommon to find oneself unable to find another job with a less controlling or irrational boss. If this is your situation, take heart. Many others have been there before.

Perhaps one of the earliest examples of this particular type of employer/employee relationship can be found in Genesis 29-31. After stealing Esau’s blessing, Jacob ran off to stay with his mother’s relatives while things cooled down back at home. No sooner had he arrived in Rebecca’s homeland than his attention was captured by the most stunningly beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her name was Rachel and she just happened to be his uncle’s daughter. After some negotiation, Jacob agreed to tend Laban’s flocks for him if he would only give her to him as his wife and, for the next seven years, Jacob busted his tail making his uncle rich. When the time was up, the wedding went through only for Jacob to discover the next morning that it was Rachel’s sister Leah who was lying in bed with him! Clearly, he had been cheated.

Not wanting to cause too much strife within the clan, Laban agreed that if Jacob would work another seven years, he would give him Rachel for his wife, as well. Reluctantly, Jacob agreed, but it quickly became clear that the “bride swap” was not the end of his uncle’s conniving schemes. During the years that followed, his uncle tried to cheat him again and again, attempting to diminish his wages no less than ten times! To say that the situation was infuriating is an understatement. It was unbearable!

So how did he make it through his commitment without his brain frying? The answer is: a positive work ethic. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at what it means to have a good work ethic… and why it matters when we find ourselves in less than favorable employment situations. Meanwhile, feel free to share your thoughts on the subject in the comment box below!

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