One thing I will never rightly be accused of is being lazy. Work is something I enjoy, almost to the point of addiction. But to see a pastor out in public cutting lawns can be a bit of an odd thing, especially when he does not need the money.
My church takes very good care of me, I have been full-time as a pastor for nearly 17 years now. In addition to that, I also am well-treated as an evangelist and at least reasonably successful as an author. We are certainly not rich, not even close, but our needs are met. Thus, my mowing of lawns has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with priorities.
I have known very well-meaning preachers who pontificate that there is no higher priority than the ministry. With all due respect, I could not disagree more. I am not minimizing ministry; it is indeed an exceptionally high calling, and should be treated as such. But a high calling and a high priority may not necessarily be the same thing, and many a preacher has "won the world" while losing those under his own roof.
Biblically, the two highest priorities any man will ever have other than his walk with Christ are those of husband and father. The Bible tells a man to be "one flesh" with his wife, and to nourish and care for her the way Christ does for the church. Our children come from that one-flesh union, and Jesus said that to offend (to cause one to go into sin) one of these little children who believe in him, it would be better for that offending person to have a millstone hung around his neck and be cast into the sea.
All of this brings me to a lawn business. Last year I helped my young teenage son start one. He and I go out together at least one day a week and spend most of the day mowing, trimming and caring for lawns of customers in our community. Once again, I do not need the money. In fact, if I so desired I could just save myself the trouble and give him an allowance. But taking that course would not serve my ends for him.
A boy needs to learn how to work and sweat and push through difficulties and get up before others. It is my job to teach him. He needs to learn how business really works and how to budget and how to plan for the future and how to invest. He needs to know that, in the real world, if you are lazy or sloppy, someone else will come along and take your customers. He needs to know that America has equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome, and that is the way it should be.
Along the way my son and I spend quality dad/son time talking about things great and small. God? Absolutely, I make sure of that. Basketball? Absolutely, he makes sure of that. Girls? He is 15, what do you think? And who do you think I would rather have him discussing that than me? If I am going to have godly grandkids one day, I cannot leave anything to chance, especially his thoughts on who would make a suitable wife.
And so we have a lawn business that is not just a lawn business. What it really is, I suppose, is a construction business. Each and every day that we ride together and talk together and mow together, I am attempting to build my son into the man I expect him to be. And as an excellent bonus, he and I are becoming better friends than ever. Yes, I will always make sure that I am a father first and a friend second, but if I have been only a father and not a friend to him in his youth, I cannot expect things to be much different in his adulthood.
I know life is busy, too busy most of the time. But if you have kids, make time for your own construction business, whatever form it takes.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., and the author of several books which are available at wordofhismouth.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.