Young People Ask . . .
Why Should I Do Manual Labor?
“I never really imagined myself doing much physical labor. I found it more enjoyable to play with my computer.”—Nathan.
“Some of the kids looked down on those of us who did physical work, as if we were not smart enough to do anything else.”—Sarah.
MANUAL LABOR—many view it as boring, dirty, and undesirable. A professor of economics says regarding blue-collar jobs: “Those occupations don’t have a lot of status in this status-conscious world.” Little wonder, then, that many youths turn up their nose at the very idea of doing physical work.
The Bible, however, promotes quite a different view of hard work. King Solomon said: “With a man there is nothing better than that he should eat and indeed drink and cause his soul to see good because of his hard work.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24) In Bible times, Israel was an agricultural society. Plowing, harvesting, and threshing all required enormous physical effort. Yet, Solomon said that hard work could bring rich rewards.
Centuries later, the apostle Paul said: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work.” (Ephesians 4:28) Paul himself was no stranger to manual labor. Although he was a highly educated man, he sometimes supported himself by making tents.—Acts 18:1-3.
How do you feel about working with your hands? Whether you realize it or not, physical work can benefit you in many ways.
Training for Life
Exerting yourself in physical work—whether by swinging a hammer or mowing a lawn—can promote good health. The benefits can go beyond your keeping fit and trim. Do you know how to fix a flat tire or how to change the oil in a car? Can you fix a broken window or repair a clogged drain? Can you cook? Can you make a bathroom spotlessly clean and sanitary? These are skills that both young men and young women do well to know, skills that can help you to live successfully on your own one day.
Interestingly, Jesus Christ himself appears to have mastered some manual skills while here on earth. He learned the trade of carpentry—no doubt from his foster father, Joseph—as he came to be called the carpenter. (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3) You too can learn a variety of useful skills by working with your hands.
Hard work can also affect how you feel about yourself. Writing for the U.S. National Mental Health and Education Center, Dr. Fred Provenzano says that learning physical tasks can add to your “sense of self-reliance and general confidence” and “can also foster self-discipline and order, which are foundations for successful employment.” A young man named John says: “Physical work helps you to learn patience. You learn how to work through problems.”
Sarah, quoted earlier, explains: “Doing manual labor taught me to be hardworking and industrious. I learned to be disciplined both mentally and physically.” Does hard work have to be drudgery? Says Nathan: “I learned to enjoy working with my hands. As I improved in my skills, I saw the quality of my work increase. This built my self-esteem.”
Manual labor can also teach you the simple joy of accomplishment. A young man named James puts it this way: “I enjoy doing carpentry. Though it may be physically tiring at times, I can always look back at what I built and feel a sense of accomplishment. It really is satisfying.” Brian echoes those sentiments. “I enjoy working on automobiles. Knowing that I have the ability to repair something that is broken and make it as good as new gives me a sense of confidence and satisfaction.”
For Christian youths, being able to do hard work can be a help in their service to God. When King Solomon was given the assignment of building a magnificent temple to Jehovah, he realized this was a task that would require a tremendous amount of effort and skill. The Bible says: “King Solomon proceeded to send and fetch Hiram out of Tyre. He was the son of a widowed woman from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a Tyrian man, a worker in copper; and he was full of the wisdom and the understanding and the knowledge for doing every sort of work in copper. Accordingly he came to King Solomon and began to do all his work.”—1 Kings 7:13, 14.
What a privilege Hiram had to use his skills to promote Jehovah’s worship! Hiram’s experience highlights the truthfulness of the Bible’s words at Proverbs 22:29: “Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself; he will not station himself before commonplace men.”
Today, even youths with little or no construction skills have had the privilege of sharing in the construction of Kingdom Halls. Because of their involvement in such projects, some have learned useful trades, such as the electrical trade, plumbing, masonry, and carpentry. Perhaps you could discuss with your local elders the possibility of sharing in Kingdom Hall construction yourself.
James, who has worked on several Kingdom Halls, says: “Many in the congregations may not have the time or abilities to help. So by helping out, you are assisting an entire congregation.” Nathan, who learned how to work with concrete, found that this skill opened up another door of service to God. He recalls: “I was able to travel to Zimbabwe and use my skills in helping to build a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I worked there for three months, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” For other youths, a taste for hard work has moved them to apply to serve as volunteers at the local branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Becoming skilled in physical labor could also allow you to have a measure of “self-sufficiency.” (1 Timothy 6:6) Many young ones among Jehovah’s Witnesses serve as pioneers, or full-time evangelizers. Learning a trade has helped some to support themselves financially without having to invest a lot of time and money in secular schooling.
How to Learn
Clearly, whether you are interested in making a living as a tradesman or simply want to be handy around the house, you can benefit from learning how to do manual labor. It may be that your local school offers some courses in the trades. Likely, you can also receive some training right at home. How? By learning to perform household chores. Writes Dr. Provenzano, quoted earlier: “Chores are especially important for teens because they teach basic domestic ‘survival skills’ that will help the teens to successfully and competently live separately from their parents when that time comes.” So be alert to do what is needed around the home. Is there a lawn to be mowed or a shelf that needs repair?
Far from being demeaning or degrading, physical labor can benefit you in many ways. Don’t run away from manual work! Instead, strive to “see good” from your hard work, for as Ecclesiastes 3:13 says, “it is the gift of God.”
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Learning a trade has helped many young ones to expand their service to God
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Often your parents can teach you basic skills