The Work Ethic

By Wayne Jackson
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We are living in a time when the “work ethic” is suffering enormously. More and more people want to do less and less for higher pay. Thousands of able-bodied people are living on welfare. Many could work, but some just don’t want to. At least they don’t want to work at a real “work” job; if they could find a “position,” that might be acceptable.

Employers and those in management are having to deal with personnel who do not want to do a reasonable day’s work for fair wages. They take sick leave when they’re not sick. They feign injuries to get “down” time. It’s a management nightmare out there. Ask someone who knows.

There were times when things were different. Let me tell you an interesting true story.

Ted Williams was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. In 1941 his batting average was .406. He won six American League batting titles. When he retired from baseball in 1960, his lifetime batting average was .344.

When Williams was forty years old, and his career with the Boston Red Sox was drawing towards a close, he suffered a pinched nerve in his neck. He would later say: “The thing was so bad that I could hardly turn my head to look at the pitcher.” For the first time in his career he batted under .300. That year he hit just .254 with ten home runs. And yet, he was the highest salaried player in sports that year, making $125,000. The following year the Red Sox sent him the same contract. Williams later revealed:

When I got it, I sent it back with a note. I told them I wouldn’t sign it until they gave me the full pay-cut allowed. I think it was 25 percent. My feeling was that I was always treated fairly by the Red Sox when it came to contracts. I never had any problem with them about money. Now they were offering me a contract I didn’t deserve. And I only wanted what I deserved.

Williams had cut his own salary by $31,250! Where is that sort of integrity today?

In the book of Ephesians the apostle Paul gives some inspired direction to those who labor for others. He was actually addressing the servant/master relationship, but to you and me the application is to the employee/employer status. Here’s the instruction, both in the ancient and modern motif:

Servants [employees], be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters [employers], with fear and trembling [reverence and awe] in singleness [sincerity] of heart, as unto Christ [as if you were working for Christ himself]; not in the way of eyeservice [just when they are watching you], as men-pleasers [trying just to get by]; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (Ephesians 6:5-6).

A Christian should have the sort of work ethic that makes his peers sit up and take notice. He arrives on time and works his full shift. He does not ask someone else to clock out for him! He does not sit around on company time. The child of God takes great pride in his work; he does the very best job he can. And he doesn’t pilfer from his employer. I recently read about a receptionist who would never use company stamps to pay for personal postage; if it was a matter of only a few cents, she put the money in the till. Her conduct was so unusual that other office personnel talked about it. Some “higher ups” took notice and before long she was offered a much more responsible position.

A Christian should be so conscientious that he is never called into question. He should go the second mile to be a good worker.

Finally, we should be happy employees! We should not continually gripe about our pay, the conditions under which we work, etc. If one cannot abide his work environment, he should let it be known in a firm but courteous fashion. If intolerant conditions persist, and he is unhappy, he should seek employment elsewhere. Ideally, the Christian should be such a hard-working, honest, cheerful employee that the company does not want to lose him. But, in the final analysis, one should not make his work associates miserable with constant bickering.

One of the most valuable contributions a parent can make to the future welfare of his child is to teach him how to work early in life. Reward him for good work. Demonstrate to him that it pays to work hard, to work well, and to accomplish his chores on time. In so doing, you will be inoculating him against a lot of grief in years to come.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.