At Work

Five Things I Learned about Work from Building a House

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Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

– Psalm 127:1

While many people were shopping for last minute gifts on Christmas Eve, my wife and I were moving into our new house.

It is a house that we have been building for over a year. While we designed and acted as the general contractor on the house, subcontractors did most of the work.

That being said, we have been at the house site working on specific projects during almost every weekend and every holiday for the last year.

As we unpacked box after box, I thought about five things that God has taught us as we labored to finish the house.

1. The Importance of Vision

Few things are more important than vision. It gives us the ability to foresee something out there, vague as it might appear from a distance, that others don’t see.

Those who are followers of Christ must first have a vision of who God is and the future he holds for them.

We also must have a sense of what God has called each of us to do. We must understand that there is a greater calling and purpose in our lives that we need to pursue.

With this house God gave my wife and I a vision for what it was to be used for and what that would look like. This quote from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings embodies part of that vision:

That house was a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.

2. Perseverance Is a Virtue

Vision by itself is not enough. We must work diligently to make our vision a reality.

The Bible calls this perseverance. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

William Wilberforce must have had this verse in mind when he said,

Our motto must continue to be perseverance. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.

There were times during the building of our house that we became very discouraged. I often had to remind myself of the old saying, “Ninety percent of success is just showing up.”

3. The Importance of Focus

While it is true that “Ninety percent of success is just showing up,” there were times that I was overwhelmed when I got to the house site knowing there were so many things to do, and at the end of the day I realized that I hadn’t gotten anything done.

My problem was a lack of focus. Proverbs 16:3 teaches us to, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

While it is true that through Christ we can do anything he calls us to do, we cannot do it all at one time.

Focus helps us to see the next thing in the plan so we can do the next thing in the plan.

4. Patience Is Also a Virtue 

Because we cannot do everything all at one time, we need to learn to be patient.

Patience is trusting God to keep his promises in his perfect timing. Psalm 37:7 says,

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.

Yet, in our fast food culture this “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

During the building of our house there were so many things outside my control that added weeks of delays. There finally came a point where I let go of these things that I could doing nothing about and trusted God to work them out.

5. Your Work Is Never Done

My wife and I are finally in our house, but there is still so much to do.

Our culture has this idea that we work hard (which is not fun), and then we enjoy the fruits of our labor (which is fun).

This mindset robs us from the joy God intends us to receive from the intrinsic value of work itself. Certainly we enjoy the fruits of our labor, but we need to learn to enjoy the work just as much.

I hope you find these lessons applicable to your own life and work. If you do, I’d love to hear how – share with us in the comments section below.

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