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TEXT: Lamentations 3:27

SUBJECT: The godly training of teenagers #3: Work


The average adult spends most of his waking hours at work. A man's typical schedule is something like this: He wakes up, prepares for work, drives to work, works, eats lunch at work, works some more, drives home from work, tells his wife about work, and goes to bed early enough to be ready for work the next morning. Work, therefore, occupies a central place in his life. And "a woman's work--of course--"is never done".

This is how it should be. For God made man, not to lounge about the creation, but to exercise dominion over it. And dominion means work. The creation mandate was not revoked at the Fall, but only complicated by the curse. Ordinary labor, therefore, remains an honorable and necessary part of human life.

Thus, you might assume that every parent makes "work" a top priority in the rearing of his children. But alas, it is not so. Many parents let their children grow up unprepared for "real life". How many boys apply for their first job with nothing to commend themselves? No experience. No skills. No discipline. Such children are pathetic. Their parents are criminal.

So I have to ask, "What are you doing to prepare your children for the workforce?" You want them to work eventually, don't you? Do you think they were born knowing how? Do you think that at the age of 16 or 18, they'll just suddenly have good work skills? Such ideas are obviously absurd, yet more than a few parents entertain them. For many let their children grow up idle, allowing even teenagers to loaf around the house all day. To permit such youthful indolence is a cruel folly. If the Bible is true, it consigns your children to a life of poverty, both financial and spiritual.

I therefore urge you to teach your children to work. It will save you a lifetime of worry. It will make them productive and happy. But best of all, it will glorify God.


A.What is the one thing every job requires? It may be blue-collar or white; high-paying or minimum wage; entry-level or executive. It's not a high school diploma. Not a strong back. Not any specific skill. The one thing every job requires is discipline. But children are born undisciplined. They are not, therefore, naturally prepared to work. "...a child left to himself--after all--brings shame to his mother".

B.Thus, a child must be taught to work. And who should be his first teacher? His parents. For, as a rule, discipline is either achieved or lost in the earliest years. "Chasten your son while there is hope..."

C.Hence, parents should be teaching their children how to work from infancy. Chores should be assigned according to their abilities.

1.At first, of course, a child can do very little. But the little he can do should include work. For example, if a child is big enough to take a toy out of the box and put it in the floor, he is also big enough to put it back. That is discipline. That is work.

a.The toddling years present a unique opportunity for teaching your children how to work, becasue:

(1)The children do not yet have bad habits to break. Their inclinations, of course, are bad, but they haven't solidified by years of practice. Therefore, by all means, bend the tree while it is yet a sapling. "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

(2)Young children are extraordinarily curious. They would enjoy helping you to carry in the groceries, vacuum, and so on. They haven't yet learned that work is "bad". Take advantage, therefore, of God's gift of curiousity. If you wait until they become teenagers, they'll think your every suggestion is "boring".

b.Teaching your youngster how to work will require a lot of effort on your part. It is far easier for a mother to clean up her child's mess than to supervise his doing it. But by taking the "easy way" now, you are putting your child on the "hard way" to maturity.

2.This "work orientation" should begin in earnest by the time your children reach their teenage years.

a.By this time, most boys are physically able to do nearly any chore around the house. They should, thus, be given their share. Girls, too should be trained in the arts of true femininity.

b.This conclusion seems so obvious as to need no proof. After all, teenagers are on the verge of adulthood. And being a responsible adult requires a good work ethic. Which is best learned at home.

D.And so, are you teaching your children to work? Or are you just giving them free rein to play? To encourage you in this sacred calling, let me remind you of one simple fact:

1.If you are not teaching your child to work, you are teaching him to not work.

2.And about "not working", the Scripture has a great deal to say. Loafing is anything but unproductive. It produces a lot, such as:

a.Personal misery. "The way of the slothful man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway" (Proverbs 15:19). Some of the stickers in that painful bush include:

(1)Discontent. "The desire of the slothful kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long..." (21:25-6)

(2)Obscurity. "Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings. He will not stand before unknown men". (22:29)

(3)Ridicule. "The slothful man says, `There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion in the streets'. As a door turns upon its hinges, so does the slothful turn on his bed. The slothful man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly". (26:13-16)

(a)Can you feel the Inspired Ridicule of this passage? The sluggard can justify his every action, why he quits his job; what he's dreaming of; how working at this place "hurts his spiritual life", and so on. But though people listen to his reasons politely, they laugh at him behind his back. For they all know, that in the final analysis, "he's a bum".

(4)Poverty. "He who deals with a slack hand becomes poor. (10:4)

b.But this man's sin effects others as well. It causes:

(1)Domestic unrest. "He who gathers in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame". (10:5)

(a)You notice the verse does not say, "he feels shame", but he "causes" it. His parents are humiliated.

(b)This, of course, can be applied in a hundred ways, but especially in marriage.

(2)Social disintegration. "The sluggard will not plow because of winter; therefore he will beg during the harvest and have nothing". (20:4)

(a)His self-imposed poverty puts a hardship on his neighbors who feel moved to help the beggar. If too many others followed his example, of course, the incentive to work would disappear, everyone would get on the dole, and eventually, the virtuous would be working to support the vicious.

(b)This may occur in churches as well as communities.

(3)Honest, hard-working people who have fallen into poverty must suffer at the hands of the loafer. Paul said that we are to "work with our hands that which is good, that we may be able to give to those who are in need". (Epheisans 4:28)

c.Laziness leads to many other sins, especially:

(1)Gossip. "We hear some work not at all, but are busybodies".

(2)Theft. "Give me neither poverty nor riches--feed me with food convenient for me; lest I be full and deny you, and say, `Who is the LORD?' or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God."

(a)These last two things refer to the poor man's inability to not pay his bills, and borrowing without any realistic hope of paying pack.

d.Sloth leads to damnation. "If any man will not provide for his own--especially those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel".

E.With all of these pointed Scriptures in mind, I trust you will take more seriously your responsibility to "Teach your children to work". Nothing less than their temporal--and eternal--welfare is at stake.


A.Instill those traits, which combined, make up "discipline". Things like "reliablity, promptness, honesty, concentration, respect for authority, and the ability to get along with other people". Most jobs are lost, not due to technical incompetence, but a general lack of discipline.

1.A parent occupies a place remarkably similar to an employer. If, therefore, you let your children defy or ignore you, you can expect him to do the same with his employer. And the boss won't be as kind as the mama.

B.As the child grows older, help guide him to his calling in life. Jobs are more than jobs. They are Divine callings. God calls people to the work for which He has equipped them. Thus, look carefully to your child's gifts, and help him see the place to which God is calling him.

1.Discourage him from callings which are obviously not his. If your teenage son is 5'2", discourage his dream of playing professional basketball. It won't happen. He has to realize that, and submit to a Higher Wisdom. Your son has poor vision, yet wants to be a pilot. Forget it, it can't happen.

2.Look carefuly at his abilities, artistic, mechanical, academic, and so on. Gently point him in the appropriate direction. Don't make up his mind for him. Help him to make up his own mind.

3.This is critically important, for children are just not wise enough to make up their minds alone as to what they want to be when they grow up.

4.How many have we known who are obviously pursuing an impossible dream. They're frustrating themselves, punishing their families, and displeasing God.

C.Do not idealize a life of ease. God made man to work. It gives meaning to his life. It keeps him from falling into many temptations. Without it, he's nothing. Don't let your children think otherwise. Enjoy your days-off and vacations, but not too much. Not to the point of despising work.

D.Do not constantly complain about your work. If your children see that you hate your work, they will not listen to you as you extol the virtues of work to them.

E.Remind them that work, in the final analysis, is an act of worship. "Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for your serve the Lord Christ in singleness of heart, fearing God."

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