John Wesley was quoted saying this about money and giving: “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” God created work and delights in us when we do good work utilizing the gifts and talents he gives each of us. When did you earn your first money from doing work? Many kids receive an allowance, but that is not what I am talking about. When did you earn your first wages or paycheck? How did that make you feel? What motivated you to get that first job?
For most of us the motivation came from wanting something special and knowing that our parents weren’t going to buy it for us and Christmas or our birthday was too far away to wait for. Recently my son Jackson (9 years old) began wanting a new Atlanta Braves hat. He found out we were going to a Braves game and he wanted a new hat to wear to the game. Now he has Braves hats, but he said they were too old and dirty. He wanted a new one but did not have the money to buy one on his own and I told him I would not buy it for him so he had a situation. We talked about ways he could make money. We talked about mowing the grass at out house as an option to earn money.
We have a decent size yard (about ½ acre) and that is a fair amount of grass. I told him if he mowed the front and the back he would get $20 ($7 for the front and $13 for the back). When I told him this he said “You will pay me $20!? It looks easy when you mow it.” We live on a pretty good hill and pushing the mower up the hill is not terribly difficult for me, but it does take a bit of exertion. I knew it would be very challenging for him.
I am picky about my yard so I stayed outside with him the entire time to guide him through the process and to teach. I showed him how to put gas in the mower, raise the blade deck on the mower (this was very difficult for him) as well as how to get the yard bag prepared for the clippings. (See picture; this was quite entertaining to watch)
We got everything set to mow and he began. He did a great job with a little guidance from me on how to get a pattern going to ensure that he didn’t miss any of the grass. I showed him how to dump the clippings without making a mess. Jackson did a great job on the front and did it fairly efficiently for his first time. He was proud of himself and he should have been.
Now the backyard was a different story. It was June in Atlanta and it was about 10:00 AM. If you know anything about the south in June you know that it really begins to heat up about this time in the morning and the humidity is usually somewhere between 90% and taking a shower. It is brutal! He began the back and began to try and go up hill and then down and so forth. Jackson is smarter than I thought he was because he quickly asked me if he could go side to side on the hill instead of up and down. That made me proud. I wanted to tell him to do it, but he needs to figure some things out on his own.
It took him about three times as long to mow the back but he made it. It was painful for me to watch him labor so hard, but he REALLY wanted a new hat and his funds were frighteningly low. I encouraged him all along as he mowed the back with a few tough words along the way for not paying attention to instructions and for the wining that began as lunch time approached. He was the proud earner of his first blister on his hand and $20 bucks after three hours worth of work! I was extremely proud of him and he was worn out! The $20 gave him over $30 total which was plenty to buy him a really nice Braves hat.
The look on Jackson’s face when I handed him the $20 bill was priceless. He couldn’t believe that in three hours he received $20. It blew his mind! It was a great moment. He was proud of the work he had done. I was proud of the work he had done and the way he went about it. He tried his best and he did his best and he did a great job. I think I felt about Jackson the way God feels about us when we do our jobs well. God is proud of us when we use the gifts he has given us to do a job and to do it well.
On this day I once again was taught a lesson by a 9 year old. I thought I was teaching him the life lessons (and he certainly began learning some), but the greater lesson was taught to me; be thankful for work because God created it and it honors him when we do it well.