My 2 ½ year old son is very opinionated and always knows exactly what he wants, so when we were in the car recently, he unhesitatingly requested talk radio. Now aside from Clark Howard and Dave Ramsey, I normally avoid talk radio, because listening to shouting (why do they always seem to be shouting?) conservative talk-show hosts causes me to feel such anxiety that I can’t listen (“We’re all headed for hell in an Obamacare basket!”). But when my son asks for something so quirky, I normally comply out of good humor.
Listening to an exuberant, fast-talking, caller-taking, right-winger for a few minutes, I heard something interesting (and not anxiety-producing). “The difference between liberals and conservatives [and how this relates to welfare and other government hand-outs],” said the Radio, “is that conservatives see work as positive: it is character-building and purpose-giving; liberals see work as a necessary evil”. I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly, and even repeating the message in conversations later that day (“See how smart we conservatives are! This is part of the problem with this generation, blah, blah, blah”). A few days later, I was cleaning the kitchen, wishing the work away so that I could finally reward myself with some relaxation, and it hit me: I am a liberal (and a prideful one, at that).
Well, not exactly: I was cheering with the conservative pundit intellectually, but harboring liberal attitudes in my heart. And that’s when I realized what others have probably known for years: the work is the reward. The work is the reward. I was viewing work in general as a positive, but when it came down to work in my life, I was still carrying it out as a necessary evil. But the work is the reward. Getting to clean the kitchen is a blessing: we’ve had food to eat, good company in each other, and nourishment in both. The work is a privilege: I get to serve my God by serving my family, and I am humbled and honored by both. Work builds up my character and is a means of sanctification. So I find myself repeating this mantra throughout my day: The work is the reward, and I receive the blessing from it.
I’m reminded of Psalm 84:10(ESV) “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Even the most menial task (laundry? floors? dishes? diapers? I can’t decide) can be seen as valuable when I have the right perspective.
Though my son enjoyed the car ride, I’m not sure how much this message sunk in: he’s still somewhat averse to cleaning his playroom. I guess 2 ½ is a little young to expect perfection. 😉 I think I’ll have him listen to “music radio” next time!