“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” – Proverbs 10:4
“A farmer, being at death’s door, and desiring to impart to his sons a secret of much moment, called them round him and said, ‘My sons, I am shortly about to die. I would have you know, therefore, that in my vineyard there lies a hidden treasure. Dig, and you will find it.’ As soon as their father was dead, the sons took spade and fork and turned up the soil of the vineyard over and over again, in their search for the treasure which they supposed to lie buried there. They found none, however: but the vines, after so thorough a digging, produced a crop such as had never before been seen. . . . . There is no treasure without toil.” [From Aesop’s Fables]
Once upon a time I was convinced that the goal of education and hard work was to be able to free oneself from the drudgery of having to work at all. Perhaps that is what attracted me to the arena of Wall Street investment banking, the notion that since that is where the money is I might have the opportunity to actually accomplish that goal. But over time my attitude changed as I came to realize that the real reward from working had little to do with wealth, and much to do with the privilege and pleasure of work itself.
In his parable of “The Rich Fool” Jesus tells about a rich man who had the good fortune of producing a big crop. The man considered what to do so he decided he should build bigger barns in which to store his great wealth of grain, then he would have plenty so he could “take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you.’” (Luke 12)
Once upon a time I would have been tempted to claim “The Rich Fool” as my hero. I thought I wanted to be like him. But now I find myself thanking God each day for giving me work to do and pray that he will never cease doing so; for as the wise father so cleverly taught his two sons, there is no treasure without toil, and the hidden treasure from our labor is in the pleasure derived from having the opportunity to grow, serve, and be productive each and every day. As the Proverb says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”