Life At Work by Phil Callaway

The summer before I went to college I got a job on a pig farm. Each day, before opening my eyes, I prayed that it was raining, snowing or that a monsoon had arrived – anything to get me out of working! I hated it.


But God didn’t answer my prayer. In fact, it was one of the driest summers on record. My boss Jesse was a hard-living, chain-smoking guy who wanted me to smoke too. “It’ll build up an immunity to disease,” he said.


I had a lousy attitude all summer – until Jesse handed me a nail gun. I loved that thing. You just lined up a wooden stud, rested the nail gun against it and pulled the trigger. Presto! A nail came flying out. It was the coolest thing. What could possibly go wrong?


With Jesse on the other side of the wooden stud, I pushed the nail gun against it, pulled the trigger, and—missed the stud. The sharp nail stuck into the poor guy’s shoulder. Jesse looked down, stunned, as if he’d just been shot – with a nail gun.


“Sorry,” I said, thinking, ‘Just after he kills me, he’s gonna keel over and die.’


He did neither. Just pulled out the nail, cursed a blue streak, then asked me, “Do you wanna quit or can I fire you?” That was my last day on the pig farm.


Few things can determine our level of joy like our attitude toward work. I regret having such a lousy one that summer. In fact, I wish I would have had the wisdom and foresight to view work as a blessing, and each day as an opportunity to brighten the workplace. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” says Colossians 3:23. This changes everything.


So today I sat down and came up with ten things I love about being a writer:


  1. You can live anyplace you like. The writer has the freedom to starve almost anywhere.
  2. You can stare out windows without your spouse asking what you’re up to.
  3. Your career isn’t over at 30, like most professional athletes.
  4. Your overhead is cheap. Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” was written on the back of an old envelope.
  5. You can get your picture in the paper without being charged for a criminal act.
  6. You can work in your bathrobe without being charged with indecency.
  7. No heavy lifting (except when 5,000 books arrive.)
  8. You can speak your mind long after you’re dead.
  9. You can receive notes like this one: “My toddler chewed most of your book. I need another one.”
  10. And this one: “I’m a mother of five. I lock myself in the bathroom and read your book. When I come out I feel like I can face the world again.”


Whatever kind of work you’re involved in, go looking for things you’re thankful for today. My buddy Wayne stuffs insulation into nooks and crannies, and frankly I don’t know a more happy, purpose-filled guy. His work is worship.


If you’re wondering what happened to Jesse, I was speaking at a men’s conference far from home, and signing books afterwards.


A tall, lanky guy handed me one and I looked up at him.


“Jesse,” I said. “No way!” It was him. “How’s your shoulder?” I asked. He laughed.


“I came to Jesus a few years ago,” and there were tears in his eyes. I asked Jesse where he lives and what he does. He said, “I’m working on that same pig farm and loving it.”

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Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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