Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. --1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
I must admit, I don't know much about the Thessalonian Scripture, but I think this piece of it pulls a lot of weight in today's world. Too often people concern themselves with gaining the respect of others without realizing exactly what it means to gain someone's respect. Acts of kindness lose their beauty when the doer shouts about them in the streets. Quiet acts of kindness go much further and are probably more often noticed by outsiders than anyone realizes.
What interests me about this scripture is the beginning where the ambition should be to remain quiet in the background, hard at work, and in turn a profitable life will be led. There is no mention of happiness following the hard work, but in my mind, if you gain the respect of others for being a hard worker, then happiness should take care of itself. Hard work leads to high productivity, which leads to a prosperous outcome. And I don't think many people are unhappy with an outcome such as that.
The final words so that you will no be dependent on anybody sticks with me as well because too often in today's world people depend on one another to get through life. We are first born alone in this world, and while we may die with people sitting at our bedside, we physically die alone as well. I think that during their lifetime, people take advantage of the help others are willing to give. An act of kindness turns into years of aid. People take niceness for granted and independence has taken on a new meaning. Today, people think independence means making your own decisions, taking control of your life, but not necessarily being independent from others when it comes to the necessities of life. But if a person works hard, and maintains their own life before helping others, they won't need aid when it comes to food, water, shelter, and transportation.
I think the beginning and end of the passage speak loudly in many realms of everyday life. Obviously it applies to working hard at a job, but I think it also can apply to getting an education. If you study hard and make sure you do what you need to do to succeed, it will pay off. Helping others can only come after you've helped yourself. Having only worked in a middle school for two semesters, I have very little experience with today's secondary students. From the observations I have noted, I see students who depend on their teachers to give them every answer, form the words in their mouths before they utter them aloud, and expect their aid on exams and written assignments. There is very little autonomy among today's youth and I'm not sure what caused this change in the world. Simple writing and arithmetic skills have been lost, and asking for manual labor is completely out of the question.
I am all for helping people in need, for helping people who are too far lost to help themselves, or who have felt so low for so long, but I am disgusted when I see people begging for help when all that is required is a bit of thinking on their part. If we can't help ourselves when life is easy, how can we expect to get anywhere when life gives us lemons?