Steve-Murrell-Headshot smallWhen it comes to work ethic, I was raised in the old-school by a West Texas dad who felt it was his parental duty to teach the next generation the value of minimum wage, back-breaking, manual labor.

The first job he arranged for me was digging ditches. That’s right, my dad secured my brother and I summer jobs as ditch-diggers, installing underground telephone cables ten hours a day in the 100-degree Mississippi heat for $1.65 an hour.

Since I complained so much about the heat, the next summer he got me an indoor job. So I spent that summer inside an UN-air conditioned warehouse loading 50-pound fertilizer bags onto pallets. During our breaks we would go outside to cool off. The inside of that warehouse was hotter than outside.

The aforementioned fond summer memories flashed into my head this morning as I read Proverbs 12:11. "He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment."

Here are a couple of quick observations about that verse:

1. Abundance and work are connected. People don’t seem to get the concept of hard work any more. They want instant success, promotion, prosperity, church growth, whatever – without actually working. I watch fresh college grads who don’t understand why the CEO has perks that are not available to them. Aren’t we all created equal? Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. In the real world, there are no participation trophies, the score is kept, and some teams actually lose.

2. Fantasies and work are not connected. It is a simple choice: work or chase fantasies. You can’t do both. How many business people chase get-rich-quick fantasies, while refusing to do the hard work required to succeed? I’ve lost count of kids with athletic “potential” who never make it because they are simply too lazy to succeed. And, I’ve watched too many church-planters chase fantasy strategies that produce nothing but phantom disciples, while refusing to put in the hard work required to make actual disciples.

I am thankful that my dad taught me to love and value hard work.

PS: Lest you think that God’s grace exempts us from hard work, consider what Paul said about both in 1 Corinthians 15:10. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

Steve’s blogs can be found at

Steve and Deborah Murrell went to the Philippines in 1984 for a “one month” summer mission trip that never ended. They are the founding pastors of Victory Manila, one church that meets in 14 locations in Metro Manila and has planted churches in 60 Philippine cities and 20 nations. Currently, Victory has more than 6,000 discipleship groups that meet in coffee shops, offices, dormitories and homes in Metro Manila. Steve is cofounder and president of Every Nation Churches & Ministries, a family of churches focused on church planting, campus ministry and world missions.

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