There’s no doubt that Janet and I have both grown up with a degree of privilege. We grew up on the south side of Chicago, have lived in the western and northwestern suburbs there and then were fortunate enough to move to Carmel, IN back in 1982. Twice in the last ten years, Carmel has been recognized as the best town in the U.S. to call home. Our kids have also been somewhat shielded from exposure to a life of hard work with little chance of advancement and living hand to mouth for decades. That is also the case with most of our grandchildren who live in Carmel.
And while Janet and I have done everything we can to keep in “real,” we live in a community that, for the most part, expects entitlement and the best of everything. Like most communities, we have our problems, but I can’t help but believe that growing up as we did, and our kids and grandchildren have, it’s tough to stay grounded, humble and hardworking.
I can’t tell you how many times we have passed a construction crew of ten workers, with half of them leaning on their shovels, holding up traffic and not contributing to getting the task completed. Admittedly, it really bothers me. So yesterday, when we left for our trip to the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV, it didn’t surprise me that we were detained by construction delays here and there, with the requisite people standing around doing nothing…
But one of the things I love about traveling is the chance to see how people from different areas of the country act. I remember the first time I was in West Virginia – more than 40 years ago on a business trip. I quickly learned two things about this state – it’s the most beautiful state I have ever travelled to and it is the poorest state I have ever seen. Through the last four decades, I have added one item to the list: West Virginia has the hardest working people in the country!
There’s something special about entering the state. Crossing the state line puts me in a different frame of mind. The gas station folks are friendly. The servers in the restaurants are always hustling – and the staff here at the Greenbrier couldn’t work harder to satisfy the needs of their guests. Last night we stopped for dinner in Beckley, WV. We ate at the local branch of a national food chain and I couldn’t believe work ethic of the staff. They kept at it – busing tables, replenishing the salad bar, cleaning tables – and all the time, they had smiles on their faces.
Then, we went across the street and spent the night at a Marriott property. Once again, I couldn’t believe the friendliness of the staff – and how hard they worked – non-stop. I watched the hotel front desk manager pick up a mop and start cleaning the floors when she had a spare moment. And when the breakfast crowd slowed down a little in the lobby, one of the staff came out from behind the counter and started busing tables. I was impressed; and I said so to the managers of several departments.
Everywhere we go, from the local grocery store to the gas station to the flower store, people are friendly and go out of their way to make us feel welcome and meet every need that we may have. Here at the Greenbrier, the service is second to none. The staff even thanks us for staying here – I’ve never been to another resort that takes that kind of care to show its appreciation.
I don’t know what is behind this incredible work ethic. Is it the years of poverty in the community at large? How about the tragic floods and seemingly endless hardships the people of this area have faced? Through it all, they have stayed the course and overcome overwhelming odds in their lives. They have persevered – and one thing is for sure – they know hospitality! Every day, all day, against the odds of advancing in their jobs, they carry on. By the way, the doorman here at the Greenbrier has been doing his job for more than 60 years! He’s in his eighties and I have never seen anything less than a smile on his face. He should be retired – but he’s not. He is so proud of his work that I can’t imagine he will ever slow down or retire. He thinks he makes a difference – and he does!
One other thing – this is a faith filled community. They acknowledge God and His divine impact on their lives. Which brings us to our verse for the evening. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians tells us, in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (NASB)
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus is thrilled when we dedicate our work to Him and do the best job we can do. My prayer is that you will notice the commitment of others to the tasks that they have been assigned. Work can be tough, and it goes a long way to provide encouragement, express appreciation and even a larger gratuity when you run across someone who is really honoring God with their work. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…