By Josh Keith –
Just about everyone has heard these phrases in some form: “Rub some dirt on it,” “Man up,” and my dad’s personal favorite, “Hike your skirt up, Nancy.” These phrases all embody the same feeling of knowing that something is hard, while also knowing that it has to be done anyway. This feeling has become lost on the modern world, especially on much of my generation, deeming that if something is “too hard,” they can simply give up or put it aside for later.
Growing up in my family, the mentality behind these words is not lost on me in the slightest. If anything, it has become a foundation for a lot of what I stand for—a belief in hard work and vocation. One of my favorite quotes comes straight from a Star Wars movie. If you know me at all, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Yoda says to Luke, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” We live in a world of easy ways out. Like Israelites coming into Canaan for the first time, most of us would take one look at the giants, turn tail, and run rather than go into our promised land. I may be of a rare breed for someone my age, but there is no greater “promised land” than that of a hard job done well, especially when that job is done to the glory of my God, in service to my neighbor.
To see something through to the end is important—that is a given. But seeing something through when it is difficult (mentally or physically) is not only the most rewarding, but also the most important and most worthy of our efforts. When I say most rewarding, I don’t mean to say that you’ll always receive a bigger tangible or monetary reward for a harder job. But you may find, as I have, that the most rewarding sense of accomplishment comes from completing a difficult task.
Some, hell, maybe even most people roll their eyes when they hear this, recalling annoying childhood lectures from parents and teachers to “do a good job for the sake of doing a good job.” Who could blame you? Who hasn’t heard their fair share of those lectures? But as over used as that age-old phrase is, the real message behind it is often lost, even by most of the people who say it. Earlier I stated that hard work is the most important and most worthy of our efforts. This is because the hardest things aren’t usually done for ourselves but for our neighbors and the people around us. The larger issue with the new generation is not the difficult task at hand. They fear failure more than anything. Who doesn’t, honestly? But rather than doing something, failing, and learning from their failure, they’d rather not try and therefore not actually “fail.”
We as sinners constantly fail. We sin in thought, word, and deed on a daily basis, and any good deeds that we do for ourselves or that we tell ourselves we do for God are only done in vain. Jesus’ sacrifice to die for our sins has already bought our salvation, and in our Baptism, the old Adam in us drowns and dies so that we no longer are bound by salvation through the completion of the commandments that constantly condemn us. So, the question is often “Why should I even try to do good if I’m only going to fail and continue to be sinful?” What I’ve found in my work and vocation is that the efforts completed are themselves the reward. For how else do we as sinners, dead in the good deeds done for ourselves and done vainly for Him who has already done them for us, serve and please God except by serving and pleasing our neighbor?
Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”