Last month, I read one chapter of proverbs every single day. I find this practice invaluable, as I learn something new each time I read through these passages. Two weeks into reading, I came across Proverbs 14:4.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”
Proverbs 14:4 ESV
At first glance, this verse seemed irrelevant–one I would typically skim over, thinking it could only be helpful to people in a different time in history. However, after thinking deeply about this verse, I realized that it is relevant to me in how I view success.
This verse paints a picture of two different farms.
The first farm has no oxen; therefore, the stable (or manger) is clean. It’s uninhabited, so there is no filth and no maintenance. The second farm reaps the harvest of a hard-working ox. However, the passage implies that the stable is dirty. If there is an ox working, there will be filth to clean up. (Okay, let’s be honest. Poop. There will be poop to clean up.) Yes, it’s an animal, working hard to bring forth crops, but it’s still an animal.
There are moments in my life when I get a sense of nostalgia for the times that were easy and less complicated. I may not have felt accomplished, but there were much fewer things to do.
The reality is this: There will be plenty of junk on the journey to success.
It’s worth it to invest in more people and more projects, but understand that these people and projects will bring their own kinds of filth and challenges to the table. Whether you are a part of a business, nonprofit, or ministry, you must be willing to face challenges to grow and thrive as an individual and as a company.
When you don’t like a challenge, choose to see it as an opportunity to grow personally. Facing challenges is worth it. In fact, it’s a part of God’s plan for us. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, ESV). Sanctification is God’s ongoing work in the life of every believer to make us more like His Son, Jesus, and most often, this happens through the challenges of life, the junk on the journey.
Now, instead of groaning at the sight of your to-do list this week, see it as a challenge, an opportunity to grow, an indication of the personal and professional harvest you are working to reap.
Want to learn more about how God works in and through ordinary lives? Check out Kevin Scott’s The Lepers’ Lessons.