Do the Hard Thing
A concrete lesson I’ll never forget

Since I was four years old, I loved going to work with my dad. Riding to and from the job site in Dad’s blue-green 1997 flatbed Ford was only the beginning of the fun. However, as I got older, and Dad got a new truck, I started to realize that it wasn’t all fun—it was work too. The thought of getting up before sunrise and working all day in its heat was hard to grasp as an eight-year-old. Generally, it doesn’t get too warm before the sun rises, but that day was an exception.

We got to the job site around 7:30 a.m., and we started prepping. The day’s job was pouring a big driveway on the side of a hill. The dirt my dad and his workers had exposed the day before was about to be topped with six inches of concrete. As a temporary summer employee, I wasn’t entirely sure what I needed to be doing to help, so I sat down. That was my first mistake.

Dad reminded me that I needed to bring the hand tools up the hill. I trudged down the hill with a scowl on my face. It was too hot for this.

With my job finished, I headed back up the hill. Dad had been cutting rebar to set grade with, and he asked for a bottle of water. To get him one, I had to get back down the hill, which as you can imagine, was terrible. Dad had noticed my slacking and tried to nip it in the bud. He told me that the reason he needed me to do these things was because no one else was there to do it. Instead of accepting my job, I still sulked. That was my second mistake.

As I wearily trudged down the hill (after my long day’s work of 30 minutes), I grabbed a bottle from the truck and brought it to him.

Now came the fun part: setting grade. To do this properly requires two people on each side of the driveway with one worker in between hammering the rebar stakes into the ground. There were only two of us, so after he had completed a row of grade pins, I had to run over and tie the string tightly to a piece of wood or a screw. Then I had to run back over to the other side and hold it down with my finger, as taut as possible. I was still sulking as I did so, but since the concrete truck was just arriving, Dad didn’t have time to correct me again.

My thought process at this point consisted of wondering why I had to come to work with Dad when I had two perfectly eligible brothers who were much better candidates for this line of work. You rarely see women finishing concrete anyway, so why did I need to learn how to? But it wasn’t the trade I was learning, but a much more important lesson.

Dad had allowed me to come to work with him, not forced me to. I had been thinking about myself the whole time instead of him. I hadn’t thought about the reason he had asked me specifically to do these small tasks. If I didn’t work to finish this, who would finish it?

I watched him bring the concrete down the chute and rake it into place, already dripping sweat—he was going to need another bottle of water soon. Instead of dragging my feet this time, I jumped up and ran to get the water from the truck. I handed it to him before he had to ask, and the grateful look in his eyes was more than enough motivation to keep working. I looked around for more things to do. That shovel needs to be moved so he doesn’t step on it. I can easily shove that saw out of the way. More water should be brought up from the truck to avoid running down every time. I know he’ll need the hand trowel soon, so I should bring that over too. I began having fun looking for things to do.

After I had tidied up and brought the necessary tools, I sat down again. This time, it was to think. Dad was working, even though it was hot. He wasn’t complaining about his job, so I shouldn’t have been either. My grandfather, the previous owner of the business, always told my dad that the job had to get done, no matter who did it.

Dad’s example of working was something I should have realized earlier. Working through the heat of the day was hard for my father. Instead of complaining and sulking, I should have looked to his example and what I could learn from it: that working hard to finish a job is more important than sitting in the shade.

If my dad had not set this example, I would not have learned the reason that working in any condition is essential in life. When we work hard for what is right, it’s pleasing to God. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works unto the Eternal, and your thoughts shall be established.” Whenever you work hard, your plans will be made ready for you. God wants to help us learn from our mistakes, and that day, He helped me learn from mine.

That hot summer day, I learned a concrete lesson I’ll never forget.