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Pastor's Piece

The Pastor's Piece 3/9/2024

By Kevin Cernek, FCFI Chaplain

Father and son in workwear putting cattle feed by large paddocks with livestock while young female walking along aisle and using tablet

FCFI March 10, 2024

Farm kids are in high demand when they grow up and go out into the working world. The obvious reason is because most of them know how to work. Early mornings, late nights, and all the hours in-between teach a person a lot. The responsibility of taking care of animals carries much responsibility. The lessons learned involving the farm animals makes the reality of life and death very real. When a mamma cow dies after giving birth- the ultimate sacrifice- it makes one realize the value of life. It instills in a person a simple love for life and work and that makes a person’s employment pedigree very attractive to an employer. When my wife and I lived out west, we applied for employment at several different places. At one particular place the head of the Human Resources department “just happened” to be talking to the receptionist at the front desk when we visited asking about employment. He stepped up to the desk and asked us a couple of questions about our backgrounds. We told him we were farm kids trying to make a go of it in the city. He ushered us into his office, had us fill out an employment application, and just like that, we were gainfully employed at his company. We stayed there for seven full years, until we moved back to the Midwest (and the farm). When our daughter attended college, she worked in the IT (Information Technology) Department at the university. Her main job was trouble shooting the source of a problem when someone on staff had technical difficulties with a computer or digital device. That is quite a bit different from milking cows. But a paycheck is a paycheck. After college when she applied for full-time employment, her interviewer said: “If you can fix a computer and milk a cow, we want you on our team!” Sometimes it’s easy for farm kids to get proud and arrogant because of the advantages gained from growing up on a farm. I see it as humbling. When our daughter brought a group of college friends home and introduced them to the milking parlor, the first thing the cows did was poop– on them. One girl got splattered in the face and that was the end of her parlor visit. The other kids couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get the barn smell out of their hair. A gentleman in our church, who married a dairy farmer’s daughter, calls it “farmer cologne.” Whatever you call it, there’s something humbling about going to work and getting covered all over in poop. But what about the town kid who never had the opportunity of growing up on a farm? Recently, I was reading an interesting article by Julie Schwab in the Christian devotional Our Daily Bread. She wrote: “I worked at a fast-food restaurant for over two years in high school. Some aspects of the job were difficult. Customers verbalized their anger while I apologized for the unwanted slice of cheese on the sandwich I didn’t make. Soon after I left, I applied for a computer job at my university. The employers were more interested in my fast-food experience than my computer skills. They wanted to know that I knew how to deal with people. My experience in unpleasant circumstances prepared me for a better job! In the Bible young David persevered through an experience we might well call unpleasant. When Israel was challenged to send someone to fight Goliath, no one was brave enough to step up to the task- No one but David. King Saul was reluctant to send him to fight, but David explained that as a shepherd he had fought and killed a lion and a bear for the sake of the sheep, (1 Sam. 17:34–36). Confidently he stated, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and . . . the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine,” (1 Samuel 17:37). God uses present circumstances to prepare us for the future. Being a shepherd didn’t earn David much respect, but it prepared him to fight Goliath and eventually become Israel’s greatest king. We may be in difficult circumstances, but through them God is preparing us for something greater!” In my opinion, working at a fast food restaurant would actually be more challenging than working on a farm. At least the farm animals can’t talk back. And … as my son often reminded me, when it came to a stubborn animal that wouldn’t do what you wanted it to– be patient. The human always wins that battle. (Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin))