Gilland: Aiming to live with integrity

Adult construction worker

I grew up with a father who was a hard-working provider for our family. He worked with his hands his entire life, most of which were in home improvement, spending many years applying aluminum siding on homes.

Dad was good at what he did, and I was honored to work by his side as his helper growing up, especially in high school in the summers. Dad would often be hired by general contractors for a special niche job at which Dad excelled: following up after another contractor had been released from the job due to poor workmanship.

Dad got plenty of his own jobs, and a good number of these followup jobs as well. Why? The contractors knew that he could go to that job site and correct the areas where the previous work had been left in poor condition.

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As I would be with my Dad on those jobs, I remember him saying something that stuck deep within. “Son, we are here to fix up what somebody else messed up,” he would say.

Then he would follow with a strong encouragement to me: “Whatever it is that you do with your life, aim to do it right the first time, so somebody like me doesn’t have to come behind you and fix it up.”

That bit of wisdom has helped me through my early years in radio and television, for 36 years of full-time ministry, and now in my later years as I have come 360, working in radio operations. My aim is to do whatever I am asked to, and to accomplish it correctly, as I would want it done by another who was working for me.

Keeping that goal in mind has helped me when I have been tempted, like we all have been, to take a shortcut in order to get the task over with more quickly.  My experience has taught me that sloppy shortcuts leave those kinds of jobs that need what Dad called “fixing.” 

Paul, in Colossians 3:23, said this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

When we approach our tasks with that as a foundation, we will find ourselves on a path to be the very best that we can be. There is nothing wrong with learning to work smarter, so long as we are not carelessly cutting corners. Doing this is the best way to live, one that blesses our employers, and more importantly, brings honor and glory to God.

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I’ve operated like that for my whole life, too. I approach it slightly differently, and describe it in a way that friends and acquaintances find easier to accept from me. I’ve always told them that I’m lazy. I don’t like to do a job over and over when it is sooo much easier to do it right the first time.

It’s becoming much harder to convince them these past many years though. Too many are accepting the idea of ‘subscription service’ where you pay an ongoing fee for service. Or the idea of ‘insurance’ to compensate for the shoddy workmanship when it ultimately shows up.

The world could be a MUCH better place if this attitude were instilled in more people and at a young age so it could become a habit.