What is the work that God rewards?

Boy Picking Wildflowers

Imagine for a moment two brothers, Bobby and Joey.

These two brothers went to their father one morning and asked for new bikes. Their father is left with a choice:

  • Give them the money. He has more than enough to do so.
  • Make them earn the money. 

Their father doesn’t want Bobby and Joey to be takers, so he chooses option 2.

The family lives near a field of wildflowers, so the father makes a deal with the boys. For every bundle of wildflowers they pick, dad will give them each one dollar.

This is a story I recently read in Ed Gungor’s book, There is More to the Secret (which is hands down one of the five books I recommend everyone read). Gungor writes about what happens next:

Both boys hop right on it.

They are both eager and willing to get out in the fields and work. They waste no time in getting started. They don’t talk about work or plan all day. They get to it. Rewards are on the way, for:

All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23

Gungor continues:

But Bobby abandons Joey in the fields before noon. Joey is pouring sweat and working feverishly as he can.

At this point, I know what you are thinking. Bobby is a quitter. Joey is diligent. God rewards hard work, not laziness.

Lazy people are soon poor;
hard workers get rich.
Proverbs 10:4

This is true…to a point. The story continues:

After a couple of hours Bobby arrives with eight of his friends – he’s told them that he will give them each fifty cents for every bundle of wildflowers. By the end of the day, without breaking into much of a sweat, Bobby has all the money he needs for the new bike, but Joey only has about half – yet he’s worked much harder.

Wait a minute…that’s not fair! Bobby worked the system while Joey toils in the hot sun. So when the payments are made and Bobby makes eight times more than Joey (and nets four times more after paying his workers), Joey is angry. He argues that their father should pay him more per bundle because he worked so much harder than Bobby.

There is More to the Secret by Ed Gungor
The story about Bobby and Joey can be found in the book, There is More to the Secret by Ed Gungor, which I highly recommend.

Proverbs 21:5 is a verse that I always thought I understood. It reads:

The plans of a hard-working person lead to prosperity,
but everyone who is always in a hurry ends up in poverty.

In other words, I thought, “Work hard, get rich. Act in haste, be poor.”

But there is a single word that finally stood out to me that holds the key to the rewards:


The plans of a hard-working person lead to prosperity.

Not just hard work. Not just plans. Bobby didn’t just sit around hoping for help to arrive. He developed a plan and worked hard to execute it.

He worked smart.

And he was rewarded.

What was Gungor’s point to this story?

That there is a system in place, set up by God. And, like Bobby, we can choose to work it or work against it. As he says:

It is no less a miracle of provision when we score harvests of blessings by learning to use the law of sowing and reaping, the law of attraction, and the law of “breaking into a sweat” as we go after the good that God has placed in this world.

And like Bobby, we can and will experience rewards in exciting ways.

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.
Proverbs 10:22

Are you working hard or working smart? What results are you getting from either?

30 thoughts on “The Work That God Rewards | There is More to the Secret by Ed Gungor

  1. David Mike says:

    Crap, I’m working hard!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      It’s not bad. Keep in mind that Joey will still earn the bike in two days.

      But here’s a tip:

      Pick one thing today to offload to someone else (a virtual assistant perhaps). You don’t have to be self-employed to do this, either.

      If you work for someone in sales (for example) and make an average of $30 for each hour of work and you can pay a VA $8/hour to do personal errands or certain administrative tasks (i.e. updating spreadsheets)…

      Look at the numbers:

      3 hours of personal errands
      3 hours of admin tasks
      6 total hours X $8/hour = $48 cost

      If you spend 4 of those hours working and take 2 hours off, you make $120 and have 2 hours more with family.

      That is a $72 net win per week ($3500+ each year) and 104 hours extra each year with family.

      Continue this and you will find more time for exercise, hobbies, family, etc.

      1. Mike Holmes says:

        If only I could tweet this lol!

  2. I love it! Great story, can’t wait to share this one with my Grandson. Thank You Matt

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is too cool Rich!

  3. Joshua Rivers says:

    Love it, Matt. I try to work smarter, not just harder. It really does pay to step back, look at the situation, and make a plan.

    1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      Do you think working like a smart aleck works too? 🙂 cuz I’m really good at that! Haha

      1. Joshua Rivers says:

        I’m pretty sure it is about the same 🙂

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        In @marksieverkropp:disqus’s case you are probably right.

  4. Katherine Leicester says:

    What a terrific post! Great way to begin my Monday morning.
    I’m learning so much by the upcoming move–this fits right into that process. I’m doing more work than planning. Or I was, up until five minutes ago.
    Thanks, Matt!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I learned something moving to Indiana from Tennessee. Well I learned two things.

      1. It’s really cold here. I always suspected it, much like I suspected unicorns existed, but it is ridiculous.

      2. When moving, I am really good at packing because I know where I want things. I know what goes together and what I want to protect the most. I suck at loading, though. So we hired that out for $120 and it was done in four hours the right way. Not one thing broke. We saved that much in non-broken stuff and unloading it easily.

  5. Lily Kreitinger says:

    Getting better at working smart. One of me cannot possibly work this hard for too long and keep up with everyone in my life who needs me. Great story!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I’m with you. I wrote this and then said to myself, “Why am I still doing my own scheduling? Why am I running this report and that report?”

      So I am in the process of offloading at least two hours per week on my assistant. It’s a small amount, but it adds up.

  6. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Great post Matt. I love the story! Those evil capitalists!!!

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the heroism of working hard but not working smart!

    What a timely reminder.

    …and don’t listen to the people who believe that dumb hard work beats smart hard work 🙂 leverage. Gotta love it!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Heroism is a good word.

  7. Mike Holmes says:

    Those are the wise words of a businessman lol! I love it!

  8. I was wondering if this story was going to lead to the parable of the hired vineyard workers (Matthew 20: 1-16). There are similarities.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Very true. I never looked at that parable that way. It will read differently from now on. Thanks Lulu!

  9. Charly Priest says:

    Matt this was a great refresher for me,I´m working hard but I´m starting to get more and more convinced that not smart enough. Gotta revise my strategy, great post.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Awesome Charly! Hopefully you’ll share how it goes.

  10. Eric Dingler says:

    Thanks for my next book to read. This sounds just like what I was looking for.

    I’m a summer camp director. I’m in the hardest few weeks of the year for me…staff training. I work 8 to midnight for weeks training my staff while still running camp and growing a personal business from 5 to 7 am. But it’s worth it. Most people assume the entire summer must be nuts for me with all the kids in camp. Nope. Once campers’ arrive, I switch to mentor and coach mode. I work really really hard for a few weeks, then for the rest of the summer….I work, but I have plenty of margin to enjoy the camp experience with my family, staff and campers. I used to put less time into training and ended up killing myself working really really hard all summer.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Brilliant Eric.

      You sound like a coach. The easiest (in terms of workload) days of the week are game days. They’ve trained the team, watched the film, and developed a strategy. Now is the time for smart execution. But even during the week, they have used assistants well.

      Great coaches don’t go get their own film or wake players up. Not because they are too good for it, but because their time is better spent on the things only they can do.

      And…If they try to work “hard” on gameday, it’s already too late.

      1. Eric Dingler says:

        It’s a lot like coaching, great analogy
        . My returning staff have a huge responsibility to develop and deliver training materials for new staff. I just lurk in the background adding commentary as needed in about 50% of our training sessions. And, in the “off-season” the year round staff recruit the best players for next year, study the game, and analyze and tweak our playbook.

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Nice. When the game starts, let the players play.

  11. Jana Botkin says:

    Hey Matt, what does Gungor mean by “the law of attraction”?

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I can’t do much better than Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_attraction

      But my own interpretation is:

      1. Belief precedes accomplishment. We increase the likelihood of something happening by believing it will.
      2. We attract similar people to our circle. People who joke a lot attract people who joke a lot. Mopey people attract mopey people etc.
      3. We tend to move towards what we focus on (bad grammar but you get the point).

      I don’t believe that I attract $1M to my bank just by thinking it, but I do believe that I will never have $1M in my bank if I don’t believe that I can.

      I also don’t believe that you can lose weight, dunk a basketball or the like without putting in the work…or believing. Both are essential.

      His book’s thesis is that it is a law…of God. And it is to be used for Him. Pretty cool idea.

      1. Jana Botkin says:

        Your interpretation is really interesting, Matt! Wiki’s term is more woo-woo, Field of Dreams, the way I’ve heard it used by people who believe that they can positive-think their way into whatever they desire. It struck me as weird to see it used by someone who quotes Scripture (the author, not you), so I had to ask.

        Even though it is Tuesday, I thank you for your thorough answer.

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        I think you would thoroughly enjoy the book. It is definitely the most fascinating book I have ever read…and that is saying something.

  12. Jon Stolpe says:

    I’m a work in progress on this. I often struggle to delegate. I too often live by the thought that “I know it’s right, because I did it myself.” Thanks for the reminder to be smart.

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