Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Youth Page

Written by Peter Langbroek
Behind the class stood Mr. Shenck, watching Joel. Joel was snickering with Steven. That was the last thing Steven needed. Steven had a hard enough time getting his Math done by lunch, let alone whittle his time goofing off with Joel. Joel peered back. Mr. Shenck pretended he didn't notice. Ping! The eraser hit Melinda square on the head. Dazed, Melinda blushed. Now there was strained laughter in the corner of the classroom where Joel sat.

It was three weeks into the school year and Joel was already fooling around. No, he wasn't a disrespectful, unpleasant child. He was a kid you couldn't dislike. He was popular because he was fun to be with. He was a great soccer player, but, when it came to school work, he was lazy.

Mr. Shenck knew Joel wasn't that good in school. He saw Joel's Grade 5 report card, and Mrs. Hogenterp, the primary teacher, had told him that Joel could hardly read by the end of Grade 2. But what Mr. Shenck noticed was that Joel wasn't trying any more. The last paragraph of the exercise Joel wrote was not indented. There were no periods, not every word beginning in a sentence was capitalized; and try to read his handwriting! After ignoring the poor mechanics and deciphering Joel's handwriting, Mr. Schenk could tell he quickly wrote something without really thinking.

Mr. Shenck walked up to Joel (now everyone was quiet). He tapped Joel on the shoulders. "Let's talk in the back of the classroom," he said.

Mr. Shenck found Joel's notebook, went up to Joel, and looked at him. "why are you here, Joel?"

"To learn, É I guess," Joel said with a sheepish grin, his face to the floor, his hands in his pockets.

"You don't learn by flinging erasers at girls."

Joel snickered.

Ignoring the snicker, Mr. Shenck continued, "You're wasting time, Joel, your time and those you're disturbing. Mr. Shenck showed him his notebook. If you tried as hard doing your schoolwork as playing soccer, you'd improve a lot. But if you keep up this sloppy work all of Grade 6 and then to Grade 12, you're going to be in bad shape and you'll regret it. I don't expect perfect work, but I expect hard work. Is that understood?"

Yeah, mumbled Joel.

"Sir, you're going to redo this paragraph this noon hour, clean the floor, bring your chewed up eraser home and return to school with a new one. I'll help you with the paragraph. Remember: hard work."

Joel sauntered back to his desk. Mr. Shenck knew he'd have to work hard to encourage and challenge Joel to improve his school work.

Children, I've made this story up, but as you and I (a teacher) know, this case is too real. My question to you is: "why isn't Joel trying to do his best in school?" I'm sure your answers (which you could write to me) will be interesting and probably right, because you know what it's like.

What's my answer? It's not always easy because there may be different reasons, but the main reason people are lazy is fear, fear of failure and fear of the unknown. As Proverbs 22:13 puts it: "The slothful man saith, There is a lion without. I shall be slain in the streets." Ever since man fell into sin, our work has been plagued with drudgery and failure. As God told Adam, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow thou shalt eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee: and thou shalt eat the herb of the field (Genesis 3: 17b-19). We all hate boring, tiring work full of imperfections and failures; yet, our work is filled with it.

To some, being lazy, craving for pleasure without pain, is their way out, especially in the things they are not good at. Let's face it; we're all lazy in some things and at least some of the time.

Yet the Bible is clear that laziness is not an option but a sin. We disobey God's command to work on this earth and we waste the time and materials He has given us to use. In the end, we destroy ourselves: "By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through (Ecclesiastes 10:18)."

At the beginning of this school year, I wish to encourage you because there is hope beyond the curse of work. God's grace, by raising His Son from the grave and Jesus' ascension, gives us hope. God's grace to sinners who receive Him in faith, is a grace that will reward, not perfect work, but hard faithful work that is invested to the glory of God. Success or disaster may come on our work (Ecclesiastes 11:1,2). We don't know (Ecclesiastes 11: 3,4), nor will we understand the work of the Lord (Ecclesiastes 11: 5), but we are called to work at all times (Ecclesiastes 11: 6) with all our might ( Ecclesiastes 9:10), knowing that it is God who will judge our labour and reward all work done in faith to His honour and glory.

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