Updated: May 11, 2022
Proverbs 14:4 "When there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests."
Insight: Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the work ahead of you? Whether it be at school or in building your career, hard work can feel daunting. This Bible verse speaks on that exact predicament. Farmers did not want to tend to the oxen because of the grimy (and honestly, stinky) reality they found themselves in. They were tireless in their efforts to raise these messy, stinky, and exhausting animals. But, from their tireless efforts and hard work, they reaped the benefits of the oxen's strength and produced abundant harvests! Now, how do oxen relate to the large percentage of us who are not looking to raise any cattle?—It's the value of hard work. It takes hard work to be present for other people. Amidst our imperfections, our differences, and our weaknesses, we may feel like other people are not worth investing in. But, as with the oxen, amidst the mess, there is a beautiful reward—the body of Christ coming together and uplifting one another in the places we fall short and loving one another despite our imperfections.
Application: Now, how do we apply this to our work lives? As I said before, hard work can feel daunting, especially at the very beginning of building a career. It takes hard work to grow yourself, grow your career, and work with others. We must be prepared for the messy stinky reality of taking those first steps into your future (just like raising the oxen) and be ready to rejoice in the benefits we will one day reap. Whether you start as a janitor, an intern, or a store associate, strive to do it with excellence because those building blocks will propel you into the future you are working towards. Also, be prepared to work with others. There will never be any perfect person in the workplace and we must not allow ourselves to be angered by anyone's imperfections. We must all be willing to grow in our weaknesses and to teach others with our strengths. It is easy to compare yourself to other people that are the same age who seem so much further along in their careers than you, but the reality is that you are not them, and the only way to achieve the goals you have for your career is by working hard wherever you are.
Gratitude: It is important to have a grateful attitude because we change our outlook from thinking negatively about our circumstances to thinking about the God above our circumstances. When it comes to our work life, having a grateful attitude changes the way we approach the work that is ahead of us. Today, I am grateful that I am able to work hard in my career and that I have a God who cares deeply about every aspect of my life. I am grateful for the vast variety of people God has created to form the body of Christ and that I am able to work alongside them.
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Contributor: Jessica Carrera holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in writing and a minor in Biblical Studies from Biola University.