As a father and mother, there are many essential values and lessons we must teach and instill in our children. We must help our children grow in their character development, and ensure that they embrace and are trained in godly character. We must ensure these characteristics become the practices and habits of their lives.
There is one however, that I believe is most essential for their success in life, their future and their faith. I believe it is absolutely essential that our children learn to work hard and embrace hard work, as the most vital and necessary ingredient for all success in life. They must learn to diligently apply themselves to a task, and put their whole heart into it, and finish it to completion.They must understand life is not about having fun, it is about accomplishing something lasting and meaningful with your life, through the avenue of hard work.
As fathers we must teach this to them, train this in them, and model it to them.
HARD WORK SHAPED AND BLESSED MY LIFE
I started my first job at 10 years old. I mowed Mr. Peterson’s yard. He owned the little grocery dry goods store in my very tiny town of Sunbury. He soon hired me to put down the red dust compound on his store’s old wood floor, and sweep it several times a week, empty his trash, and sort all the pop bottles in the wooden crates out behind his store. I was thrilled to have this job. With my first paycheck I bought my mom a red etched glass vase that she still has to this day. With my next paycheck I bought my first denim jacket!
Eventually we moved to Webster City. I mowed lawns, I sacked groceries and stocked shelves at Fareway Foods. I detasseled corn in the summers waking very early, walking mile after mile of rows of corn, in the hot humidity, getting soaking wet from the dew on the corn. I also walked beans hoeing out the weeds growing in the fields. I worked at the Flower Cart keeping the greenhouse plants growing, drove their truck to deliver and plant shrubs and trees in customers’ yards. Eventually in the summers I worked at Merlin’s farm, cultivating his fields for planting on his old tractor with the metal seat, cleaning out the manure in his barns with a pitchfork, not a front end loader, cutting out the trees in his fence rows, riding the hay wagon, as I loaded and stacked thousands of 75lb bales of hay, fed some of his animals, and slept at nights in his pop-up camper parked on the farm. During my senior year of highschool I also worked 30 hours a week at Pizza Hut often till late at night making pizzas, waiting on customers, and closing down the store, mopping the floors at midnight or 2am on the weekends. I graduated in 1975, hitch-hiked to the mountains in Colorado, then hitch-hiked to Hitchcock,Texas and worked on an oil refinery as a ditch digger, digging holes under pipes for the welders to weld the pipes carrying oil. I eventually moved back to Webster City, worked in a factory, during which time God reached down and grabbed ahold of me and radically changed my life. I gave my life completely to Jesus Christ. I got a job as a machinist, training as a lathe operator from 6 am till 2 pm every day. I applied this work hard ethic to my faith and my walk with God. I spent countless hours out alone praying, reading my Bible, and sharing my faith with others, finding every way I could to serve others for Christ’s sake. I knew God had called me to become a pastor, missionary, preacher, and future church planter, and set about preparing myself for that task.
I eventually moved to Ames in May of 1977, jobs were very hard to find then. I took a job shoveling manure fertilizer into hundred-pound bags. I worked hanging sheet-rock, the old-fashioned way, not with power tools, pressing the sheet-rock against the ceiling joists with my head, while pounding the nails into the sheet-rock, holding the hammer upside down, pounding up! I found a job as a banquet set-up guy and groundskeeper for a Ramada Inn, where eventually they had an opening for a breakfast cook that paid more money, they opened at 5 am till 1 pm each day. I took the job, never having cooked before in my life, and worked at it with great diligence and effort. When I married in 1979 this was my job. Shortly after marrying, I got Kathy and me a job as cooks for a sorority, living in a tiny downstairs apartment they provided. We were expecting our first child. We had to create menus, order all the food, stay on budget, and prepare most of the meals every day for the entire school year. After our daughter was born, we moved out. I started to sell an engine product called Engine Life through a direct marketing company. I also ran a small warehouse and distribution center out of my garage for this company and their products to earn extra money and in addition, did some roofing, and any work I could find. Eventually, I took a job selling auto parts, working 45 hours a week at Sieg Auto Parts. I also took a night job working an additional 25 hours a week at Zap video arcade to help provide for our growing family. After several years I took a job in the parts dept of a Cadillac dealership. On December 6th,1986 I was ordained as a Pastor, and on Dec. 31st,1986, moved my wife and 3 children to Minnesota, with $600 in my pocket, in a 1978 Chevy Malibu coupe, and a small U haul moving truck.
I had a promise from my church in Ames of a salary for one year, of $18,000 and if I did not have a growing church and regular tithes and offerings coming in after a year, I wouldn’t have any salary at all, as the church in Ames was going to give for only one year. Our giving for that first year ended up at $2365 per week. Thirty-one years later, it was $92,000 per week. God was incredibly faithful!!
As a new pastor and church planter, I threw myself into the task. I led the music team, led our Sunday worship, sang the special songs, and I preached almost 70 percent of the weekend services. I started and led our weekly New Life college students, teaching the weekly Bible study. I launched and started our weekly New Life professional singles group, and started a weekly group called Renew expounding on the transformative power of the Gospel of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness, to help people struggling with issues of their past, or other addictions. I taught it every week. I started Partners For Life, to help couples with their marriages. I started a weekly Bible discovery class and taught it. I discipled and mentored young ministry leaders. I led countless leaders training meetings. I started a Dad’s workshop to teach fathers how to be fathers and raise and train their children. I taught at our New Community midweek church gatherings, leading worship and music, and doing seminars on evangelism, faith development, parenting and raising children, the gospel and the grace of God, spiritual disciplines, walking with God, etc. I was eventually doing 3 church services a weekend. In addition, I then started and founded a new Sat. night church for young singles and college students called The Rock. I planned it, built a team of workers, recruited people to help serve in various ways, devised a plan to raise all the $365,000 we needed to launch it, prepared the special service to present the vision to my congregation, and asked them to give financially to bring this endeavor to fruition. I crafted and wrote the literature and posters we would use to let people know about this new church. I creatively designed a weekly service using music and message series that young people could relate to and understand how God, faith, Christianity and the Bible were vital, relevant, and essential to their lives. I held nothing back to encourage them, warn them, instruct them, inspire them, and teach and prepare them. I taught them to defy this wicked culture and live passionately devoted to Jesus Christ, in loving obedience to him. I counseled hundreds and hundreds of people. I taught our Rock midweek service for my young people to develop their faith, teaching them the Bible’s wisdom and truth and how to live them out in day to day life. I traveled to speak at almost 200 conferences to build, train, inspire and challenge people in their faith, all at no charge for my services, sometimes speaking 6 or more times at a single conference. I traveled 34 times out of the country to help advance the Gospel in Berlin, in Honduras, and a few other Central American countries. I served on a Latin American mission board, the board of my own national Church association, and helped provide leadership on a local and national level. I started, founded, planned, and led our church association’s yearly Faithwalker conference for 15 years. Thousands of young singles and families’ lives were profoundly impacted for Christ. I wrote tens of thousands of emails corresponding to and offering guidance, counsel and encouragement to Christians in my congregations as well as many others. I oversaw and coached 10 churches and their pastors in my region of the country, and offered guidance, coaching, and advice to all that asked. I spent hundreds of hours in prayer, hundreds of hours reading my Bible in study and message preparation. I would often go into my garage alone, and practice preaching my messages out loud so that I would know them well, and be able to maintain eye contact with my congregation as I taught them, ensuring I kept them within a certain time limit. I put forth every bit of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual energy I possibly could into my preaching, teaching, and ministry work.
My motto and aspiration all those years were these two phrases by the Apostle Paul. “Though I am the least of the apostles yet I worked harder than all of them.” “I teach them about Christ, teaching and admonishing them with all wisdom, that I might present them to God mature in their relationship with Christ. I work very hard at this, often to the point of exhaustion, as I depend on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”
I knew as a father it was imperative to lead and impact my children by my example. They saw their dad work very, very hard. My office was in our home. They also saw me work very hard at my marriage, and work very hard in my parenting and in my relationship with each of them.
Each of my 4 children worked a paper route from a very early age. They delivered papers in freezing, brutally cold weather. They had to work very hard for years to achieve their black belts in karate. They each worked very hard at their schooling. All of them had jobs through highschool and college. The Mall Of America was a block from our house. One worked at American Eagle, one at Abercrombie, one at Byerly’s grocery, and one at a hair salon. Their mom worked very hard homeschooling them and caring for the family, and each of them went to college at a young age and worked very diligently at their studies. I have watched each of them now as adults with families of their own, and I am incredibly blessed by their work ethic and that of their spouses, and the immense challenges they have persevered and worked through. I have observed now after many years that next to their faith in God, their “hard work” ethic has been the most vital ingredient to their successes in life.
There is absolutely no substitute in the world for hard work and a great work ethic. God was not joking around when he said:
Hard work brings prosperity. Playing around brings poverty.
Pr. 28:19 TB
Work hard and become a leader; Be lazy and never succeed.
Pr. 12:24 TB
Hard work brings prosperity; Only a fool idles away his time.
Pr. 12:11 TB
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling