Dad in his shop, with each item in its place.

Lessons from Dad’s toolbox

My dad had a shop that any man would envy. He had every tool imaginable for every need — and each item in its place.

As his eldest daughter, I learned about the tools and how to use them. I also learned (the hard way) to put each tool back in its assigned spot. And shovels and hoes were to be returned with the dirt cleaned off, and a coating of oil applied with a paintbrush.

I recently pulled Dad’s toolbox from the barn and placed it on the patio, and my thoughts turned to lessons learned from him — including a strong work ethic. Here are a few thoughts: 

Work is not a curse (though the fall did make work harder).

Helping Dad wasn’t at the top of my list as a young person. But it was all for my good, and things I learned then are beneficial to me today.

In Genesis 2:15 (ESV), “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” God gave man work. There is dignity in work. Humanity, created in God’s image, represents Him, and we serve Him through work.

If you don’t work, you don’t eat.

When my children were growing up, I would quote the last half of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat,” a practical principle written by Paul to the church at Thessalonica. Before supper I would ask, “What work did you do today?” Each child would proudly give me a rundown of what they had accomplished.

Do your work for the Lord, not man.

Confession time: This isn’t easy for me. I tend to look at the circumstances, the injustices, and comparisons.

Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).

This verse convicts my heart every time. I often fall short of “doing my work heartily for the Lord.”

Two words come to my mind: attitude, and servant. When my perspective, aligned with God’s Word, is correct, it’s incredible how my focus is better. I do the work heartily because I’m doing it for Him, not my employer. But the employer also benefits.

A servant heart speaks volumes of Christ’s transforming work in our lives as we share Him with a world that is self-centered, rude, and unwilling to work.

Work brings rewards and blessings.

Joseph is an excellent example of God’s provision and blessings. Read Genesis 39:2-6. Let’s hone in on several phrases: “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man” (v. 2); “His master saw that the Lord was with him (and) caused all that he did to succeed” (v. 3); “Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him” (v. 4); and Potiphar “left all that he had in Joseph’s charge” (v. 6).

Are you giving your best effort and trusting God’s provision to equip you with what you need in your work? Joseph did!

As we do our work unto the Lord, our employer recognizes that we are trustworthy and that our goal is to see the business grow.

You are making a difference, whatever your “work.” Each individual is uniquely gifted with talents, abilities and knowledge. However, believers also have God’s presence, His wisdom, and the opportunity to share Christ in the marketplace.

We also receive monetary benefits as we “work for our bread,” a wage for the work we produce.

Jesus completed His Father’s work.

Joseph, Jesus’ earthly stepfather, was a carpenter. Usually around 12 years old, a Jewish son began to learn his father’s occupation (see Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55). But Jesus’ most significant work was fulfilling what His Heavenly Father sent Him to complete: Through His death, burial and resurrection, He provided salvation for everyone who repents and believes, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NKJV).

God is always at work.

Paul wrote, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God is our provider! It is a comfort to know that God is always at work accomplishing His purpose and plan in us, no matter what.




In this new season of her life, Laura Lee hopes to focus on her three passions: freelance writing, sharing and serving through hospitality, and cultivating Lady Laura’s Garden, a cut-flower farm. You can contact her at

Pro-Life Mississippi