Gina Moore (copy)

You may have heard it said, “Farming isn’t just a job. It’s a way of life.”

When our sons were in high school and told us they wanted to choose farming for their full-time careers, I remember some of the discussions and advice that ensued.

As fifth-generation farmers, they were blessed with the opportunity to farm, and we reminded them of this position. But they already knew.

When my husband and I were dating (more than 30 years ago), I noticed many of his friends were envious of his vocation.

They’d comment how lucky he was and how they wished they had a farm in their family.

At that age, working outdoors and getting to drive big trucks and tractors definitely had an appeal. But, while plenty of young men and women express interest in agriculture, it’s just not economically feasible for many who don’t have some sort of a head start.

Land prices combined with equipment costs and so many other inputs necessary to farm prohibit most young people from (literally) going into the field.

And, even being born into a farm family, I reminded our sons it really was true: farming is a way of life.

Although it certainly can be a wonderful way of life, I wanted them to think it through – this commitment they were signing on for.

We warned them it wouldn’t be easy. And I remember telling them I wanted them to be content with their choice – in the bumper-crop times as well as in the disappointing-yield years too.

We pointed out the many variables they’d deal with. Yet they didn’t waver.

I even remember telling them I didn’t want them to walk into their class reunions someday and envy those whose lives perhaps looked different from theirs … frequent travelers with fancy homes and plenty of toys to fill their free time.

I told them I wanted them to be happy for others, realizing they likely reaped benefits associated with their choices. I concluded by telling them I wanted them to be content with themselves and their choices, adding that’s a lot easier said than done.

Then, as I think about the vocation our daughter signed on for – medicine – and the level of commitment it has and will continue to require, I realize this struggle for contentment will accompany whatever career choice we make.

Whether we’re a farmer, a doctor, a teacher, a preacher, a lawyer, an engineer, a stay-at-home parent, a law enforcement officer, a blue-collar worker, an entrepreneur, (you fill in the blank) - each choice might be seen as its own “way of life.”

We must prepare for good and not-so-good parts of whatever we choose, for no occupation is without headaches.

We can consider each of the above examples, listing the pros and cons of any of them. So how do we deal with the negatives?

Mark Twain said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

But maybe the key ingredient in achieving lasting contentment may be revealed when we search our hearts to answer deeper questions than what we enjoy, such as: what are our motives for working and for whom do we work? Just whose “way of life” is it anyway?

Are we working for selfish motives, including attention, acclaim, money, possessions, power – all of which only satisfy in the short term yet ultimately result in emptiness? Or are we working “as for the Lord,” fulfilling not our callings, but his?

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) And a few verses later: “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)

Those verses are important reminders. Yep, it’s true whatever work we choose will surely have its cons. After all, Jesus told us in this world we’d have trouble.

But our instruction manual, the Bible, can prepare us for how to deal with them.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

And let us not overlook Paul’s tip, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)

As I think about our children and their vocations, I realize I’m blessed to watch them put their individual skillsets to use.

And I pray they discover for themselves and hold tight to the key to a life of contentment. Jesus summed it up, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (John 14:6)

It’s been said all of man’s questions of life are answered in this one verse. The way of life, indeed!

Finally, may we realize just as the blessed parent watches his children work, God, our father, watches us – his children. And I love what a very wise man (the wisest, we’re told) deduced, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God.” (Solomon, Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)

Gina Moore, a news-editorial journalism major, has operated Marketplace Consignment Sale for 27 years and has worked part-time at Treasures. She also enjoys country cooking, reading and writing about motherhood, life on the farm and how God’s love and lessons surround residents.