Bass Mitchell: Over the years, I’ve grown fond of work

Bass Mitchell

My last year in high school was rapidly coming to an end. One day my mother asked me, “What are your plans for work during the summer?” She was busy rolling some bread dough on the table.

Her question caught me a little off guard. I mumbled a few syllables and said, “I think I deserve some time off.”

“How much time?” she asked and I saw her press down even harder on the rolling pen.

“Not much. Just the summer,” I replied. Then, to bolster my position, I quickly quoted scripture: “Besides, the wisest man in the Bible said, `What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?’ Ecclesiastes 1:3.'” Then I leaned back smugly in my chair. I just knew I had her this time. It was a new experience for me. I wanted to enjoy it.

My mother looked at me as only she could and said, “This I command you, if any would not work, neither shall he eat. Second Thessalonians 3:10.”

I didn’t get any time off that summer, starting right then, as I had to finish rolling out that dough. I think that was also her way of telling me this was the only “dough” I’d be getting apart from a job. Moms are sneaky like that.

I still had mixed feelings about the value of work. Most kids do. You know why? Because we see what it does to our parents. My father would come home each night and collapse in a pile on the couch. Mom would talk about the agonies of working life and I could see them on her face and weary body. It’s no wonder kids want to stay as far away from work as they can.

That wise old king was right. Sometimes you work and work, and wonder if there’s any real profit in it. Or, to put it in more modern language, “You load 16 tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt…” Or, as another song says,“Working nine to five, what a way to make a living. Barely getting by, all taking and no giving…” What working person hasn’t felt that way sometime?

I have talked with many people about work and have seen some studies. It seems that millions of Americans, for many different reasons, are not happy in their work. But they keep on working because they and their families are fond of eating.

Over the years I have grown more fond of work (my mother would be proud). My attitude has changed. Work is actually a blessing, a gift from God. Just ask someone who has been laid off or with a disability that keeps them from working.

A lot depends on your perspective. Work is a means to use God given gifts to serve God and neighbor, as well as providing for those we love. It can also be a great source of joy and personal fulfillment. Also, through it we can meet interesting people and establish meaningful friendships. Although not every job is like that. One place I worked had a sign that read, “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you work with turkeys!” Unfortunately, that sign was pretty accurate.

Getting all of this out of work does not just depend on the kind of work you do, as important as that is, but a lot on how you look at it. Hopefully you have a mother or someone like her who is able to point out to you its practical benefits. If not, email me. I’ll have my mother give you a call.

Bass Mitchell is currently hard at work as a pastor and writer (just in case his mom is reading this). He is pastor of Manor Memorial United Methodist Church in New Market.