Monday, June 24, 2013


When He was a a young boy, and as a teenager, His father used to take Him along on community service projects. One He remembers with both fondness and loathing was helping out at the community pig farm that serviced under privileged families. Their service consisted of mucking out the styes. He still remembers the stench that could not be washed off His skin. He hated it. And yet, He loved it because He was with His dad. At the time He dreaded His father volunteering His services at the pig farm. There was nothing fun about it. It was difficult, dirty, and thankless work. However, in retrospect the memories of working alongside His father are priceless. He now understands that His father was teaching Him how to work and to serve others.

One of the joys of parenthood is that we get to inflict the same "cruel" activities on our children as our parents inflicted on us. It is however in wisdom that we understand the work was never intended as either cruel or meaningless. Rather, they often were trying to teach us valuable attributes that would help us grow into useful, empathetic, and conscientious members of society. This is how He sees the imposed service now. He has in fact taken our boys to help at the same pig farm, and they HATED it. They complained, they moaned, they pretended illness and injury, and used every excuse they could think of. Like His father, He teaches His sons the meaning of work, the importance of community service, and the forms of compensation that comes from both. He teaches them that community service has innumerable rewards that usually are not publicly recognized, but are richly rewarded internally. He teaches them that an honest days work is compensated by a paycheck, and that the size of the paycheck does not denote the work's worthiness. He believes all honest work contributes to a heathy and functioning society.

I realized how much His example impacted our son's lives a few years ago when my eldest son was living a  few states away from us. I received a letter in the mail from a woman who said she had met my son. She asked my son for my address so she could write to me. In the letter she explained how she came to meet my son. He was walking along the street one day when he saw two middle aged women moving into a home. They were unloading a moving van all by themselves. My son and his friend stopped and asked if they could help them. The writer expressed what a blessing my son was to them. They not only spent the whole day unloading the van, they returned early the next morning to finish helping the women move in. She told me how impressed she was with my son. She said that it was unusual that a young 20 year old man would stop what he was doing to help a perfect stranger. She thanked me for raising such a thoughtful, helpful, and courteous young man. She was especially impressed by what a hard worker he was. Although the letter and its contents were addressed to me, He is the one who set the example of hard work.

He serves alongside... more reason I love Him.

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