Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Fast Food Lessons

By David West

*This article originally appeared in the SCOPE Newsletter Volume 27 – Issue 2. It has been slightly edited for re-publication.

As my daughter and I walked into a familiar fast-food restaurant, I sensed something was different. The parking lot was full and it was well after the normal lunch hour. Then upon entering the establishment, we found it packed with people. An overdressed patron occupied almost every table.

Turning to my daughter I said, “Something is happening here. I wonder what it is?” After ordering ice cream for two, I asked the cashier, “What’s going on today?” She informed me that the restaurant was having open interviews for jobs.

Not thinking much more of it, I found an open table and started to enjoy a tasty treat with my daughter. As it turned out, I couldn’t have picked a better seat in order to have a great opportunity to pass on some wisdom.

Our table was situated in just the right place for me to overhear the store manager interview potential employees. I couldn’t resist listening in and commenting to my daughter. We were close enough for me to hear the conversations but far enough away that I could whisper insights to her without being overheard.

“You always do that,” she said after I started talking.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Talk about stuff that’s going on around us,” she reported.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” I said.

“Do you think the manager will hire that person?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“I wouldn’t if I were the boss. Do you know why?”

“No.”

One of the potential employees hadn’t worked in over three years. The manager asked why and the person answered, “Because no one is hiring.” The manager then asked, “How many places have you applied?” The response came back, “Ten.”

I told my daughter, “She lacks initiative. As a store manager, I would hope she had been applying for ten jobs per week, not ten in the last three years while complaining that no one is hiring.” Another potential employee had a hard time keeping his pants up. I mentioned to my daughter that managers don’t like dealing with uniform issues. “If this young man can’t keep his pants up during an interview when he is trying to impress the boss, what will it be like after he is hired.”

And so the conversation continued like this through several interviews. I was enjoying the ice cream, but even more, I was enjoying a chance to share insights with my girl.

I told my daughter, “This would be bold and not many people would do it. But do you know what I would do if I were here waiting to be interviewed? Instead of sitting at a table and waiting for my number to be called, I would be picking up trash under the table and cleaning up after patrons. The manager would be sure to notice and then ask me about this when it was my turn. I would answer, “Since serving the customers and the establishment is what I will be hired to do, why waste time getting started?”

Parents have a great responsibility to train their children. This burden falls especially on the dads. Not only are we to teach them all that God has commanded (see Deuteronomy 6), but many practical things that will help them throughout life. Proverbs is full of this kind of instruction from a father to a son and it is a great example for us.

My young lady may not remember much of this conversation, but as many more just like this pile up over the years, they certainly will shape her thinking. My goal as a dad is not to see my daughter get a job at a fast-food restaurant. The goal is to see her grow up to be a woman who works diligently for the glory of God. The work ethic I was promoting that day is as relevant at school, home, or church. God tells us that whatever our hand finds to do, we should do it with all our might. These are the type of lessons I want my children to learn concerning the workplace. As a dad, it is my responsibility to help my children become productive, work-loving, self-starters. Modeling this is, of course, the best way. Another way is by always talking about “stuff” that’s going on around us.

Building A Healthy Concept of Work in Your Kids

*This article originally appeared in the SCOPE newsletter, September 2012. It has been lightly edited.

By Karla Worell-Memmott

I recently attended a webinar in which the speaker was addressing statistical evidence of college graduates’ lack of preparation for the labor force. In one of the surveys cited, employers emphasized the lack of work ethic in many college graduates. As I listened to the information presented, I reflected back to a book I read in my early years of parenting entitled, Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World. The authors, Glenn and Nelson (1989), voiced their concern with respect to the parenting trend of that time which included entertaining children rather than training children. The author’s apprehension included only the amount of television entertainment to which children were exposed in the late 1980s. I don’t know if there has been a revision to the book, but ponder whether the author’s anxiety has increased in our “entertainment saturated society.” These cares were expressed in the webinar, wherein the speaker cited facts identifying the number of hours spent in entertainment-based activities, which in the webinar’s speaker’s opinion included television, video games, internet, social media, as well as the inclination towards sports and other entertainment-based activities.

            The solution presented in the book and the webinar were somewhat similar. The suggestion addressed the need to target young children with a healthy understanding of work, responsibility, and team membership. The three concepts are interrelated. Now obviously, this is not a suggestion to set up a child-labor based society, nor a suggestion that we have no entertainment whatsoever. The intent is to instill in children a healthy concept of work by giving the child age-appropriate responsibilities that contribute towards the functioning of the family. The idea is to teach a child that he or she is a valuable member of a team, the family. If the child neglects his responsibility, the family will share in that neglect. In my own life, I recall that as a young child of seven or eight, my responsibility on our family vacations was to crank up our tent trailer and set the jacks. I also vividly remember the time when I forgot to set the jacks and my mother went inside the tent-trailer to set up the beds. I learned that when I didn’t uphold my responsibility, others could suffer.

            The responsibilities given to young children will obviously vary based on age, ability, and family circumstances; however, young children should not be denied the reward (Eccl. 5:18-19) that comes from a healthy work ethic. For example, if a family is constructing a fence, younger children can be assigned the responsibility of bringing glasses of water to the family members or perhaps handing nails to the workers. The idea is to practically instruct the child that he is capable of work and can contribute to the success of a team. Through the process of repetitions in varied circumstances with increasing responsibility over the years, this focus will be internalized and will later translate into an adult who is ready to enter the labor force with a solid work ethic.

            We live in a society in which the youth are encouraged not to work, to enjoy their youth and put off work as long as possible. Alex Chediak (2011) notes that the lack of a work ethic is one reason behind the influx of many college graduates returning home to live with their parents. Can you imagine the testimony we send into the business community when a young adult graduates from college prepared to enter into the workplace with a solid, Biblical-based work ethic? This training does not begin during the college years; it begins when a five-year-old proudly boasts to a neighbor, “My family built a fence. My job was to give everyone the nails.” It continues when this event is repeated in many small increments through the developing years.

Works Cited:

Chediak, Alex, (2011). Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

College Plus Webinar (2012). “The Importance of Knowing Your Worldview When You Enter the Market Place” [Webinar]. Spring Branch, Texas

Glenn, H.S. & Nelson, J. (1989). Raising Self-Reliant Children In A Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People. Rocklin, California: Prima Publishing.

The International Inductive Study Bible, (1993). Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers.

Homeschooling Is Not The Promised Land

I won’t name the organization. They probably do good work, but their motto is misguided. I cringe every time I read it. They claim to help Christian families leave government schools for the Promised Land of Christian education or homeschooling.

Really? The Promised Land?

I’m a stalwart advocate for private Christian education. I have many reasons. The government school system is failing our children by every measure. From poor academics, to financial waste, to immorality, the school system gets a failing grade.

So, what are we to do? Leave the system?

Certainly, I’m all for it. But to call the exodus into Christian schooling and homeschooling an entrance into the Promised Land is too much.

Biblical imagery can be taken out of context to such an extent that it becomes unhelpful. For one thing, the Israelites found Canaan filled with idolatry and immorality, arguable worse than existed in Egypt. They were told to rid all idols and foreign gods from the land. They failed. Why? Because they brought wicked hearts with them into the Promised Land. They brought their problem with them. Their problem was sin.

The same thing is true of us. We remove our children from public schools, but our children bring their biggest struggle with them – they bring their sinful hearts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing for leaving children in the public-school system. Neither am I advocating the “salt and light” argument. I’m simply saying this: Christian schools and homeschools aren’t the Savior. Only Christ can save us from our sins. He is the One we need. He is the One our children need.

So, stay out of the public-school system, but, don’t assume you have entered a land of promise. Assume you have work to do, difficult work, gospel work. Raising your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord takes effort and diligence. Getting them out from under humanistic teaching is only one step in the process. Pray that God uses your efforts to save, to turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Our hope must be in Christ alone, not in a Promised Land of our own imagination.