As a young boy, all I ever wanted to be was a cowboy. When I was about seven years old, I got a $2 black felt cowboy hat that I loved and wore a lot, probably too much. When the day came for second grade school pictures, I remember my mother telling me not to wear the hat in my school pictures. The details aren’t important, but I can tell you that the day I came home with the pictures, I was in big trouble. I may not have achieved my boyhood dream of being a cowboy who rides the range, but I have been blessed with the opportunity to live on a ranch and have a few cows.
There are so many things I enjoy about ranching that I couldn’t begin to list them all, but I can sum it up by saying, I am continually amazed at God’s creation and I’m blessed to be able to work with the land and livestock with which He has entrusted my family. But, like so many things in life, being a modern day cowboy is not pleasant all the time. There are jobs on the ranch that aren’t always enjoyable. A few come to mind: pulling a calf in February in a freezing rain, digging post holes in rocky ground in August, fixing fence that bulls have torn down for the third time in a week, etc. Just like cowboys of the past, you sometimes “do what has to be done” even though it’s not always pleasant. Most occupations have at least some duties that could be classified as things that we don’t look forward to but must be done in order to succeed.
As a tractor dealer, one of my “do what has to be done” jobs is listening to customers who have received less than satisfactory service from Great Plains. Sometimes it’s not very pleasant, but hearing how we have let our customers down is not only necessary, but actually welcomed. We have gone as far as employing a third party company to randomly survey our customers to find out where we have failed. We are actually paying someone to ask our customers to criticize us! We get the results of these surveys by email, and I sometimes dread opening them because I really don’t enjoy dealing with criticism. But I know this process is the fastest way we can learn where we need to improve our service, so I have learned to at least tolerate the experience. I liken it to taking medicine: It may not taste very good, but it’s worth it if it makes you better. Aristotle said: “There is only one way to avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing and be nothing”. So I guess no criticism would be a much worse alternative!
Proverbs 14:23 says: “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” What is your “do what has to be done” job? I would encourage you to work on the things that you have left undone, and hopefully you will find, as I have, that there are benefits to completing those less than desirable tasks. After all, the only thing worse than doing what has to be done is… doing nothing.
BY BILL CLARK
FROM THE 2015 ISSUE OF GREAT PLAINS LIVING