REVELATIONS: 'You don't work, you don't eat'

June 20, 2014 at 1:20 a.m.

When I was growing up, my father always told me, "You don't work; you don't eat."

He was a hard-working man, an ambitious man, a displaced Yankee in the South with too much education and intolerance for slow movement.

I never saw him rise in the morning - even on the weekends - because when I awoke, he had already been up for hours.

He'd get up, go for a run, get Starbucks, come home and shower, then ready himself to go to the office, conveniently located in the basement of our home.

He took business calls at our pool, had the luxury of going upstairs for lunch or a nap during the day and generally came and went as he pleased.

It was a sweet deal for him; it would be for most people, really.

But he worked hard to maintain the life he provided for us.

And I always knew if he lost it all and we were forced to live on beans and sugar water, he would work at McDonald's if it meant putting food on the table.

My mother, too, worked a full-time job. She also raised three children, mostly by herself, because my father, while present in the basement, was busy most of the day or away on work trips.

When my parents fought, their primary argument was about my father's desire for Mom to work less so she could be home more with the children.

Of course, she countered the argument, suggesting my father should be more available during the day to share the child rearing and household responsibilities.

Incidentally, that argument ceased when my mother retired five years ago - with a comfortable retirement package in tow. Dad still works from the basement, and Mom finally has the time to be more domestic.

While my parents could have both been more understanding and supportive with the other's desire to work so much all those years ago, they taught their children - all three of us - a valuable lesson: the importance of having and keeping a job.

They also taught us our future spouses, whomever they might be, should value working and be driven to provide for the family.

So when I look around my age-similar circle these days, not only here in South Texas but also around the nation, it's odd to me that the number of people in their 20s and 30s without jobs and no drive to work continues to become more prevalent. Worse yet, it seems to be acceptable - popular, even.

This doesn't reflect everyone, of course, and we have record highs these days of women in executive levels of business, and women are for the first time surpassing men with graduate-level education.

But even with this incredible progress, it seems to me there are increasingly higher numbers of folks in my age group who think it's perfectly acceptable to live (usually off their parents or off the gifts of friends and lovers) without any ambition or goals for the future.

They're comfortable living at their parents' homes, not paying rent, borrowing cars because they don't own one of their own and spending any money they have not on saving for a vehicle or apartment, but on partying with friends at the local watering hole.

If they do work, the jobs are part time or short-lived, or they quit (or get fired) after several months because they wake up one morning and don't feel like going to the office.

I hear the stories; I see the evidence; it's rampant nationwide - and it confuses me.

Sure, some of these people are genuinely affected by the economy or personal circumstances. But I am not talking about those people.

I'm talking about the ones who are able-bodied, of sound mind - but lazy.

What frustrates me is these people are usually at the core beautiful people to know.

They're talented and dynamic; others are attracted to their charisma.

Yet night after late night, day after sleep-til-noon day, they're wasting their gifts - gifts that I would pay millions of dollars for, gifts I wish came naturally to me.

And I sigh deep sighs when I see these young, bright, capable people choosing an early life of leisure, letting their gifts evaporate into thin air rather than entering boldly into adulthood and working hard, just as the many talented, hard-working generations before us did.

So, I ask you: When did the men and women of this young, intelligent, capable generation lose their desire to work? When did they lose their desire to advance, achieve and give back to society?

Are parents over-coddling, over-enabling and refusing to put their foot down when their child comes to them and says, "I think I'm going to spend my 20s (or 30s) living at your house and not work or finish college"?

Because while it seems like an entertaining life plan to have no real responsibilities and have everyone else pay for your groceries, at some point, the enablers die. Their money will run out. And what's left is a shell of a person with no real life skills or confidence in their ability to keep a job.

Those who came before us in previous generations gave up much and sacrificed often to give me and the rest of my generation an easier and better head start in life.

And I know I don't want to take their sacrifices for granted. I don't think I could stomach it. I don't think I want to know what it's like to not have ambition and dreams and work ethic.

Like Paul said in 2 Thessalonians and my father after him, "If you don't work, you don't eat."

Paul also said not working "must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately - no excuses, no arguments - and earn their own keep."

So, get out there, millennials, and seize your potential.

You are capable. You are talented. And yes, you can do it.

Jennifer Preyss is the faith editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or on Twitter @jenniferpreyss.



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