By Sylvia Dickson
The young man had been busily raking leaves into a large pile. As he worked he sang My God Is an Awesome God using each stroke of the rake to keep time. He caught my shadow out of the corner of his eye and turned to look at me with a startled expression.
“Hey,” I said. “I like the way you’re working, and the singing, too.”
“Uhhh, thank you,” he replied.
I could tell he was somewhat embarrassed so I said, “Keep up the good work,” and turned to leave. As I walked away I could hear him again start working and singing.
It’s great to catch someone doing well. It’s great to say encouraging words. And, it’s great to tell other people about it.
Each evening in the FCA dining hall we have a time of announcements, scripture, and prayer. Part of this includes our own version of “tweeting.” Quick snippets of recognition for doing a job well or going the extra mile are announced. Or, projects are pointed out: take a look at the beautiful new flower bed that Nancy and Felicia helped Mrs. N with; the guys at Taylor Home helped clean up elderly Mr. P’s house.
The French Camp work program was started in the 1950’s by Sam Patterson, FCA president. He knew the value of work superseded the physical result. The moral effect of a job well done and recognition for it permeates and transforms a person’s self-view. It even can transform his world view.
Let’s say he’s assigned to the grounds work crew. At first he knows nothing about taking care of things, much less serving others. At first his mowing leaves streaks in the lawn and his weed eater always jams. But his work supervisor teaches him how to mow, use the weed eater, check the oil, clean, and properly store the equipment.
After a while, he looks at the well-mown lawn, edged sidewalks, and manicured flowerbeds with pride. What started out as drudgery has turned to delight, and his supervisor gives him a great big Attaboy.
Now he can point to something he has accomplished and has an awareness that he can do something right and good. So, what else might he do? Maybe he can do better in school. Maybe he can control his temper. Maybe, just maybe, he can help someone else.
Maybe one day he can say, Got’cha, to another student doing something well.