Menial greatness?


My friend, may I ask you a question? Isn’t it funny that so often our character is revealed in our willingness or unwillingness to employ ourselves in work? There are many things in this life that define our character, but why does it seem that work alone reveals so much about what we are and who we are striving to be?

My friend, Life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I'm Mark Brunner.

Funny, isn’t it, that so often our character is revealed in our willingness or unwillingness to employ ourselves in work. There are many things in this life that define our character, but work alone reveals so much about what we are and who we are striving to be. When I was a sophomore in high school and in need of some spending money, I asked my father if he would pay me for work that I could do around the yard. I approached him with some trepidation but as calmly as I could I stated my case. He nodded, walked into the house and returned with a newspaper. “You will find all the employment you need between these pages.” Subject closed. However menial or difficult, I was consigned to searching for a job befitting a sophomore in high school. Since I was only sixteen, that meant I had to take the “scraps” that other job seekers left. The prospect of finding something interesting and well-paying was remote. And, since there was something to gain, I held my nose and got a boring job washing dishes at minimum wage.

Piano teacher Nadia Boulanger writes: “There is nothing boring in life except ourselves. The most humble work does not have to be boring. I remember Madame Duval, the old woman who cleaned the floor in my place in Gargenville. I think of her with profound respect and reverence. She was 80 years old. One day she knocked at my door and said, “Mademoiselle, I know you don’t like to be disturbed, but the floor, come and see it; it shines!” In my mind, Stravinsky and Madame Duval will appear before the Lord for the same reason. Each had done what he does with all his conscious- ness. When I said this to Stravinsky, who knew Madame Duval, he said, “How you flatter me, for when I do something, I have something to gain. But she, she has only the work to be well done.” [Nadia Boulanger, pianist and teacher, in Wisdom for our Time, edited by James Nelson (Norton).]

Menial, even degrading tasks, are sometimes the best gauge of character. The Bible tells us to be faithful in all things, even those that seem unimportant or boring. Often the work that we do is not completely up to our potential. It is at those times that our faithfulness to the task really comes to fore. Are we willing to put our best into even those efforts that don’t require much in the way of skills? I found washing dishes to be repetitious and boring. But, motivated by the thought that if I washed enough of them I could buy that car, I kept at it. But, blest are those who persevere in the tedious things when there is nothing to gain. This is true faithfulness; to excel where others merely labor.

We pray. Heavenly Father, You have given us work to do. Some may be great and impacting, but most will be menial and most go unnoticed—except by You. Thank you Lord for giving us menial work, work that reveals our character, commitment and strength of purpose. Forgive us when we forget that it isn’t in the great things alone that we are valued, but that our value as Christians most often resides in the menial tasks we do every day. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

Therefore my friend, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34) This Passing Day. May this passing day honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and be a blessing to you and everyone you meet. Find a stranger and say hello. Don't let another day pass without your day blessing someone else.

If you have a special prayer request, please send your request to ”This Passing Day!”

<markcbrunner@thispassingday.com> From Beech Springs, God bless you for Jesus sake.

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