“$2.90 an hour? No way!”
My friend stared at me in disbelief. “Yes, I was making minimum wage in the summer of 1979, working for a company in Hawaii.”
I still didn’t believe him. “I still have my first pay stub from my first job working at a fast food restaurant in Hawaii, during that same time period. There is no way the minimum wage was that low!”
“Go check it and see!”
He was correct. Forty years ago, the state of Hawaii and the federal minimum wage was $2.90 an hour. My decaying neurons and dendritic connections had failed me once again. At that time, I was living at home, enjoying the summer before my senior year in high school. I was fortunate to not have to work to survive but to gain practical life experience. Frankly, when I received my first paycheck, I felt very rich, but it was a false sense of security with no financial responsibilities. I didn’t have to pay rent, purchase groceries, pay for my car-all of the expenses that any working adult is familiar. Years later, when I was an intern in Denver, Colorado, I learned what it was like to live on a fixed income, responsible for all of my expenses, and it was definitely not like my high school experience. I slept on the floor of my rented apartment, ate nearly all of my meals at the hospital which were partially subsidized for the medical residents, and walked to the hospital as often as I could to save money on gas. Ironically, in adjusted dollars, what I was making was very close to the minimum wage that I was making eight years earlier, but I worked twice as hard to earn it. It was not easy and there were many days that I was unsure whether I would make it through the month. I had no false sense of security, no safety net, just grateful to work and earn my money to be completely independent and make a living.
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV)
With rare exceptions, nearly all of us need to work to make a living. Even during the time of the early Christian Church, the Apostle Paul recognized that there were some individuals who chose to not work, relying upon others to support and subsidize their lives of idleness. In other passages, Paul is clear that we have an obligation to support those who are physically unable to work and to care for society’s disenfranchised such as widows and orphans. However, if we are capable of working we should. This honors God who gives us life and the skills to serve Him in His Kingdom on this earth.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.