Hey! You Don’t Have to Stand for This!

The young man stood with his arms crossed. “My dad says I don’t have to stand for any of this.”

I stopped my paperwork and turned to look at him. I liked the kid. Despite his chronic late arrivals and his clear preference for chatting with members over cleaning equipment, he had an “everyman” quality I appreciated. “I’ll bite. What exactly does your father say you don’t have to stand for?”

“All these extra trainings you say are mandatory. He says I don’t have to stand for stuff like that at a minimum wage job.” He tried to look me in the eye as he spoke, but to his credit, he couldn’t hold my gaze.

“You know you get paid to attend these trainings, right?”

“Minimum wage.”

“True. But, did you know these trainings on things like CPR, First Aid, listening skills, and child abuse prevention will provide you with skills you can use in your next job and in everyday life?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I’m not worried about my next job yet. My dad said I can make minimum wage at the fast food place up the road and NOT have to attend extra trainings that just waste my time.”

“That’s true. Your dad is correct about one thing. You don’t have to stand for it, but you can’t keep working here unless you attend the trainings.” I paused. “The funny thing is, I thought you enjoyed most of this work. You’re good with the members. They all like you.”

He looked away again. “Yeah, I like most of it. I like them, too. But, I don’t like the trainings, and my dad says –“

I held up my hand, “I know, you don’t have to stand for it. Well, work your shift, and let me know what you decide by the end of the night.”

He chose to walk away. He took his father’s advice and refused to “stand for” a job that provided him training and opportunities that would serve him well down the road because “trainings waste my time.” It’s not uncommon for young people not to see the benefit of the “extra” work. Less common is hearing a father urge a son to take the easier, short-vision path.

Our Father is not like that with His children.

We may complain that the path is hard, the pay is low, and the benefits hard to foresee, just like my young friend. Our Father nods as He hears us out, but He offers different counsel.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

That, dear loved ones, is the spiritual equivalent of “eat your Brussel sprouts. One day, you’ll thank me.” And the truth is, we will.

The world is full of crummy fathers. Fathers with sad advice resulting in children who make devastating choices, and then cry foul when faced with the consequences of those choices.

They call press conferences and issue thin apologies that sound more like “I call backsies” than actual repentance. Anyone who holds them accountable is accused of bullying.

A world of grown up babies who won’t stand for nothing, so they aren’t prepared to withstand anything.

We are not those children.

Our Father tells us to consider all hardship as training. To turn our attention to Him when faced with trials, to seek His strength and counsel through struggles and pain, and He will use everything the world throws at us to make us more like Him.

He says we are more than conquerors. Not only can we stand for it all, we can withstand everything that is to come, and even when faced with evil, He will help us make a stand.

I heard an echo of this biblical counsel in an unlikely place this week. A father many know better than our Father. Rocky Balboa, when speaking to his son, Robert, imparts these words:

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place… and I don´t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently, if you let it. You, me or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life. But ain’t about how hard you hit… It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward… how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That´s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you worth, go out and get what you worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying: You ain´t what you wanna be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain´t you! You´re better than that. I’m always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.” – Rocky Balboa, 2006

Many times, I’ve faced our Father as I read the words of James 1, usually after I’ve poured out my heart about how hard life is and how much others are at fault for my trials, and I’ve heard His heart beat for me like Rocky’s beat for his son.

I can hear Our Father say to me through His Word, I’m always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my daughter because of Jesus’ blood. You can let this trial press you to the mat or you can choose to face it in my strength. In Christ, there is no condemnation, but if you face it, on the other side of it, is more abundant life. You’re my daughter. It’s my blood flowing through your soul, so what’s it going to be?

We have a good, good Father. Sometimes, that means we stand what others cannot. But on the other side, is life.

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    The Conversation

  1. Sharmel says:

    I am glad to hear you had a refreshing time. Was just praying for you and found your latest blog. Welcome back sister. You were missed.

  2. Kim Wilbanks says:

    I love this one. Thank you for the encouraging words!