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  Work is Good!
#14 in a series


Work is not an evil to be avoided. It is a discipline to be cheerfully embraced and it has its own reward. My sons heard stuff like that as kids and they believed it!

Work. Just plain ole' work. Work of all kinds. Some glamorous, some sorta dull. Immediately rewarding or sowing seeds for the future. In the public eye or unseen. Grimy or something you can do on your way to a wedding. For love or for money.

Something needs done and we do it. It might be the kind of work that we enjoy in itself, and maybe not. But it is there, we do it, and in that there is reward.

Accomplishment is important to the human soul. It is part of the way we are made. Even getting little things done around the house is rewarding – both in terms of the work itself, and for many of us, in warming the heart of the one we share life with.

Contributing to the welfare of others is deeply satisfying. Big things, little things – but unless we are so terribly inward-focused that we’re relationally numb, it feels good to add to someone else's life. And there is something special about doing it anonymously.

There can be relational benefits in working with others. Rebuilding airplanes and wrecked cars in the parsonage basement created a positive atmosphere with my teenage sons. Helping a friend with a project lets you see inside each other in new and important ways. Working with others at church shows you the real person in a way that the view from the pew never will.

Kids these days are getting their heads full of technical stuff but they aren't learning much about life. About what makes it good. About responsibility, giving, and serving others. Parents do their children a great service when they teach them to work. Kids should never be allowed to think that they are too good or too important in any way, to do menial work. Or dirty work. For money; for others; or just for the sake of work itself.

There is extra benefit in doing things well. When "good enough" is not good enough. Leaving the mark of excellence on your work takes you to new levels of reward. It is true in the way one approaches flying, your job, making something with your hands, hanging up pictures for your wife at home, or washing the car.

I did forest and mosquito spraying with Douglas DC-3's for some years. We were out of bed in time to have the aircraft loaded, warmed up and ready for takeoff just before daylight. I'd work hard at crisp and accurate turns at the end of each spray run. Seconds counted. We'd keep our reloading and refueling time to a minimum. Minutes mattered. My copilot and I would study the spray blocks before heading out so we could get there and start spraying without delay. I'd try to fly precise, parallel spray swaths. I never quit trying to get the airplane off the ground and climbing well at somewhat over normal weight, or honing my skills on three-point landings. And I liked it when I was high man for the day in terms of acres sprayed. It was hard work. Long hours. Sometimes pretty sweaty. But wow – the satisfaction of doing it well went deep. And I liked the paycheck at the end! 

Hard work is good for job security. I promised my Kenyan students that if they worked hard, they would greatly increase their chances of getting a promotion. Cruel bosses aren't necessarily stupid. They like people who work hard and contribute to their wealth!

Jobs are scarce in Kenya. Many of my friends and students were overcome by a sense of futility. Yet even there I saw that diligent, industrious people always had meaningful things to do. There was the small piece of ground one could grow vegetables on, and sell – if he/she was willing to dig in the dirt. Or things to be made with your hands and sold. Or services to be rendered.

Work is also good for the body. Couch potatoes would be a lot healthier and happier if they would get off their duffer and do something. For themselves or others. Shut off the stupid TV and DO something. Get off the Internet and go help a neighbor – or fix something around the house.

I see a lot of people trying to avoid work. Or doing just enough to get by – in quality or quantity. They are not only cheating others, they are cheating themselves of the rewards that follows industriousness and diligence. Work is Good!


Born in 1940, Ken Stoltzfus has worked as a pilot, ordained Christian minister, businessman, missionary to Africa and writer. This is #14 in his series "The View From Up Life’s Path", and is one of many short articles that can be found at

© Ken Stoltzfus,, P.O. Box 228, Kidron, OH 44636 USA. May be printed for personal use and may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes without further permission if proper acknowledgment is given.

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