Have you taught them how to work?

It was such a blessing to work with Marine Colonel Cliff Acree. He is an amazing man and I love being able to call him “My Friend.”

One Christmas I was excited to share with Cliff that my parents were coming to spend the holidays with us. Cliff replied, “I want to meet your Mom and Dad.” I must have looked surprised, so he continued. “I want to learn how they taught you your work ethic.” I was disappointed when Cliff transferred without ever meeting Mom and Poppa. He would have loved my folks and my folks would have loved him. They had read the book about Cliff and his wife and wanted to thank them for all that they had given for America and for freedom.

I have thought about Cliff’s comment so many times through the years. He was exactly right – I was taught my work ethic; it isn’t something I learned on my own. My parents, always hard workers, believe in the value of work. And, they taught their work ethic to the five Mullins’ kids. To be honest there were many days that I tried to avoid those lessons; a day of play would have been so much more fun. But, today, I am thankful that I know how to work. More importantly, I know how to keep going when the work gets weary or boring or more challenging. (Notice that I have been careful to write that I know how to work. I am not always faithful to my parents’ lessons and examples in doing the work.)

Poppa’s lesson was simple. The Ten Commandments say “do not steal.” And, one of Poppa’s interpretations of that rule was that pay for an eight-hour day should be for a full eight hours (or more) of work. That meant that we should already be doing work at the beginning of our shift, not just arriving at the work site. And, the end-of-the work day should find us still at our labor. He taught us that to do less than that meant we were stealing from our employer.

Leaders may need to teach the work ethic. It’s sad, but true, that too many Americans have not been taught to work. No doubt that others seeing you work is a great demonstration of the concept; but, have you considered teaching someone how to work? Know that a word or two from you can make a huge difference. Consider your kids as your read the examples below:

  • “Let’s start this project together” and then you share how to organize the task. Don’t get worried when they find a new or different way to do it!
  • “I’ll meet you in 90 minutes in the kitchen for a snack. By then, we will both need a break!”
  • “By the time you finish mowing, I should have the shrubs trimmed.”

A person who is taught to work will carry that work ethic with them the rest of their lives. And, the best leaders and employees I have ever known have all been hard workers. For me, a good work ethic is more important than any talent or experience that can be listed on a resume.

OK, back to work!! (Sorry.)

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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