Roosters crowing. Coffee brewing. Oatmeal cooking. I rubbed my arms trying to get warm, sighed at the thought of another work day, and watched my breath float out over the misty mountains of our Pacific island jungle.
The dense ironwood foundation poles of our new home were finally in the ground, and our family was laying the roughhewn floor. In the meantime, all six of us were camping out in my husband’s 15' x 15' jungle office, which he had built earlier, before we moved up the mountain to make this new site our home.
Four children, ages eight to fourteen, may not be a typical house-building work crew, but for my husband and me, it was nothing new; this was our third home on the field. The morning sun was peeking over the top of the mountains, and it was time to get our crew to work.
We live in the high mountains of Asia Pacific. Our family, along with our coworkers, has spent the last nine years watching the Lord establish a church among our tribal friends here. We continue to translate the Bible and create lessons to teach the Bible in their own language.
Building a house in the jungle is a big task, and all of our boys threw themselves into it. To understand how such teamwork in a family is possible, we need to rewind several years.
Living in the jungle makes for very busy days, especially early on. My focus at first was learning the tribal language, schooling our sons, and keeping everyone fed. So with four hungry little mouths, mounds of school work, full laundry baskets, and sweet neighbors eagerly awaiting a visit on my porch, I realized that I needed to put every little hand to work. Even the youngest could contribute.
Over the years this fostered all sorts of great, unexpected results. What at first seemed like an added burden on our children actually gave them purpose as family team members. They realized everyone was needed. Hours in the kitchen became a great avenue for heart-to-heart talks. Seeing our house run smoothly—in part because of their contribution—gave them a greater appreciation for a job well done. It also fostered deep friendships between brothers and cultivated thankful attitudes. In addition, it gave them room for creativity, made us a team, and began to develop a healthy work ethic.
Whether children grow up in the jungle, suburbia, or the big city, they need to see that their lives have purpose. Just teaching children to work hard produces hard workers, but teaching hard work with a biblical perspective can produce world changers!
Our lives are short. The Bible says they are like my breath on a cold mountain morning—here one moment and gone the next. Our wise Creator God gave us strong, functional bodies and minds so that we could work while we have life and youth. This is what the Lord expects of followers of Christ—a privilege, not a curse.
We want to develop a good work ethic in our children ultimately so they will glorify God with their lives.
God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and made him a caretaker. He received the responsibility to tend the garden and oversee the creation. God gave Adam this work before the Fall and before God cursed the ground. So work is a good thing that came directly from God.
We as parents want to develop a good work ethic in our children ultimately so they will glorify God with their lives. We would like to instill in our children that their lives are needed, that they have been created for a purpose. They can use their strengths and gifts to be a blessing to others. All their days can be used to serve God and bring glory to His name.
It took us about three months before we could set aside our hammers and planers, but the lessons will last a lifetime. Working hard “as unto the Lord” is rewarding both in this life and in the next. As the times grow darker and the world gets more confusing, spiraling further and further away from the truth of God’s Word, it is crucial to teach and model a biblical work ethic.
Our children are the future. They will replace us as the next generation of Christ’s ambassadors on earth. May God give us, as parents, the grace and patience to teach our children a biblical work ethic that they may spare no effort to spread light to the world.
Meet the Wilds
Mike and Libby Wild are missionaries to the Wonok people in the jungles of Asia Pacific. Together, they serve the people and are working to translate the Bible into their language. Their children share the excitement of missionary life in a popular DVD series The Wild Brothers.
Look here in each issue of Answers for practical parenting tips God has taught Mike and Libby Wild as they raise four boys on the mission field in the jungles of Asia Pacific.