How do we work when no one is watching? Does our ethic change? Can the tolerance for short-cuts derail the desire for quality? Sometimes the job assignment may be glamour-free, hidden from view, and 100% boring. It is those moments that test our integrity. How well we do the unseen or the mundane speaks volumes about our character and motivation.
We’ve all worked with sluggards who model top employee behaviors only when management might notice. And we’ve encountered slackers who do their jobs halfway then count on others to finish the tasks. Shovel Leaner Guy, Perpetual Web Surfer Dude, and Mrs. HacksALot who’s always on her smoke break–it’s enough to make hard-workers scream in frustration, especially when the lay-a-bouts take home the same salary as the rest of us.
The Old Testament tells Ithamar’s story. Some sources state that the literal meaning of his name is “palm island”, and his work ethic is an oasis of good example for those of us who labor in obscurity somewhere other than the top spot.
Ithamar made his entrance into a high profile family. As the youngest of four sons born to Aaron and Elisheba (Exodus 6:23), Ithamar earned last mention in the recorded genealogies. God, through Moses, placed a call on the lives of Aaron and the four boys to serve as priests.
Ithamar’s assignments seemed to fall into support and logistics.
- Exodus 38:21 presents him as keeping an inventory of the funds and materials used to build the tabernacle.
- Numbers 4 adds that Ithamar coordinated tabernacle moves by supervising the work of the Gershonites and the Merarites as they assembled, disassembled, or transported the components.
As long as the project progressed on schedule with no lost parts Ithamar’s contribution remained hidden.
The MacArthur Study Bible in the NASB flavor puts the number of Levites involved in the service of the tabernacle at 8580. The group included 2630 Gershonites and 3200 Merarites. The unassuming, behind-the-scenes Ithamar held responsibility for nearly 70% of the personnel. Without his contingent doing their tasks timely and accurately worship could not happen.
It hurts when our hard work is unappreciated, or when we start to feel taken for granted. Our attitude may sour as the desire to do our best evaporates.
I believe the drive behind Ithamar’s strong work ethic was his love for God. The youngest son of Aaron did not limit the view of his work to counting, wrangling and moving. He recognized the vital role he played in fostering the nation’s worship. That personal knowledge propelled him forward with a determination to excel at his assigned tasks. His contagious and influential spirit no doubt spread to others on his team. Ithamar knew when the job was done right even if no one commented.
Our work matters to God. Others may overlook us, but God is always watching. Take a few seconds and read His perspective on adopting a solid work ethic.
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17 NLT
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 NLT
For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Hebrews 6:10 NLT