1 Thessalonians 4: 11bYou should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…
I admire tennis player Serena Williams. She certainly has never fit into the box of the typical female tennis player. As she recently put it: “I’ve never been the right kind of woman – oversized, overconfident, too mean…too black for my tennis whites, too motivated for motherhood,”[i] Now I don’t know Serena, and can’t comment on her beliefs, or values, but I can comment on her work ethic. There is no doubt that she has been blessed with incredible talent, in particular her power. She had a dad who trained her and her sister Venus, from an early age, which set her on the path to success, which has included being the number 1 ranked women’s singles player eight times between 2002 and 2017. She has won 23 major singles titles, ranking her 2nd all time. But what impressed me the most, was a recent loss at Wimbleton.
I follow tennis casually, so I was surprised to see that Williams would play at Wimbleton 2018. After all, just 10 months prior she gave birth to a daughter, in which Serena almost died due to health complications that left her bedridden for 6 weeks. Not only did Serena make it back, although now ranked 25th and 37 years old, she made it all the way to the finals where she lost. I was shocked as she dismantled one opponent after the next. How had she made it back so fast? Apparently, the answer was hard work. Her husband, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, said: “I’ve had this front-row seat over the last three years to greatness. It’s a humbling experience seeing really what high-pressure situations actually look like professionally, seeing just what it takes to actually be that great. It is a work ethic on another level.”[ii]
The vast majority of people respect those who work hard. When I come across someone working hard, no matter if it is a worker diligently cleaning toilets at a restaurant, or quickly passing my groceries through the register, I admire them. This is not a new phenomenon. The apostle Paul makes many references to hard work in his writings. In fact, in his second letter to the church in Thessalonica he has an entire portion of the letter dedicated to warning them against “idleness” (2 Thessalonians 3: 6-15). “7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.” (vv 7-8).
Paul understood that we are an example to the world in all our actions, especially how we work. 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12). I am not talking about becoming a workaholic because that is turning work into an idol. It is doing the work you need to do with excellence. Not taking short-cuts, rather putting in an effort that makes you stand out. If you train and compete as such an athlete, you will gain the respect of others and their ears will now be open to hear what makes you tick. And now the door opens to share who is at the centre of your life – the Lord Jesus Christ.