Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn

This classic folk song delivers good lessons in the form of a colorful story set to an energetic tune. Give the song a sing-along listen, then come back and we’ll talk about work, play and choosing a partner for life.

In every job that must be done …

I was 21 years old before anyone ever sat me down, looked me in the eyes, and helped me understand that work is a privilege, a joy, a gift. Before that, I thought work was a necessary evil, to be avoided or abbreviated whenever possible.

There is an element of fun …

I used to believe the opposite of work was fun.

Here is a better idea:
The opposite of work is idleness
Work… is activity.
Fun… is activity.
Idleness… leaves me dull and bored.

The trick is to see the fun in the work.

You find the fun …

Have you read Tom Sawyer? Mark Twain gifted the world with one of the best scenes in literature.

It is the most perfectly beautiful, warm, lovely day imaginable. A day to play, swim, relax, drink in the blue sky and delicious air.

But not for Tom Sawyer. The worst has happened. He’s chained to WORK. Tom has to whitewash a huge fence. Worse yet, the snarky Ben Rodgers is approaching. Tom braces himself to be teased on account of his forced servitude. Suddenly, a flash of inspiration strikes Tom. See it play out in Mark Twain’s own words:

“Say—I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther WORK—wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

“What do you call work?”

“Why, ain’t THAT work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you LIKE it?”

The brush continued to move.

“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and there—criticized the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let ME whitewash a little.”

And SNAP! The job’s a game

What follows is Tom Sawyer and those neighbor kids had more fun than they could have imagined on that beautiful day.

What changed?

On the surface, Tom used his genius to get out of work, which would seem to support the idea that fun is the opposite of work. But step back a little and see that everyone in the story had a good time. Once the “work” was reframed as “fun” there was not enough “work” to go around for all who wanted in on the fun. Even Tom, though still responsible for the job, had a great time, engaged, entertained, delighted … as he changed hats.

See work God’s way

I almost couldn’t believe it when I learned that God’s idea for man’s delight in Paradise included work. Adam and Eve worked the garden. I began to notice how much I enjoyed working on things that interested me. It was so easy to lose track of time.

But what about things that don’t interest us? Here is a key — we can learn to find the fun in work. Give it a try. Ask God to teach you something — through the work you are doing — a lesson of His choice. Or give Him a fun challenge and ask Him to teach you — through the work at hand — more about something YOU are trying to learn. You would be setting yourself up for a blessing you will never forget. Really!

We want to be active. We want to be engaged. We want to do things that are meaningful and rewarding. I have good news — work is honorable and, with the right mindset, fun. As we seek to learn more about God’s way concerning work, consider these words from Colossians:

And whatsoever ye do,
do it heartily, as to the Lord,
and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord
ye shall receive
the reward of the inheritance:
for ye serve the Lord Christ.

True, in real life, not every chore will be a laugh a minute. But as we get up and move in life we learn to live bigger and become the players in this poem:

God has no hands but our hands
with which to give His people bread.
God has no feet but our feet
with which to walk among the almost dead.
We say that we are His and He is ours.
Deeds are the proof of this, not words,
And these are the proving hours.

What do we have to prove? How about that thing in Romans 12: “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Let’s jump at every opportunity to let God display His goodness! This is not the day and time to be lackluster or lazy. God has good work for us to do.

God bless you lots
— Dale R.

P.s. – Ladies, heed the lesson!

I can’t sign off without adding this coaching to the ladies: As this week’s song teaches,

Don’t court a lazy man!

You might want to get married and have kids in the worst way. I’d say marrying a lazy man is close to the worst way. You want a man for a husband, not an “adult child” to care for! There is so much more I’d like to say on this but time and space forbid.

Ladies, remember the line from this song: “A lazy man I’ll not maintain!”

Download this song page

LYRICS: Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn
Traditional folk song

I’ll sing you a song and it’s not very long,
It’s about a young man who wouldn’t hoe corn.
The reason why I cannot tell,
For this young man was always well.

He planted his corn in the month of June,
And by July it was knee high;
First of September come a big frost,
And all this young man’s corn was lost.

He went to the fence and there peeked in,
The weeds and the grass come up to his chin;
The weeds and the grass they grew so high,
It caused this young man for to sigh.

He went down to his neighbor’s door,
Where he had often been before; Saying,
“Pretty little miss, will you marry me,
Pretty little miss what do you say?”

“Here you are a-wanting for to wed,
And cannot make your own cornbread;
Single I am, single I’ll remain,
A lazy man I’ll not maintain.”

Well, he went down to the pretty little widder,
And I hope by the dickens that he don’t git her;
She give him the mitten just as sure as you’re born
All because he wouldn’t hoe corn.

Neat convenience for you

For a long time now I’ve been sending folks a short note announcing when I post each new “Bible lesson and song for kids of all ages”. If you like, I’d be happy to start sending YOU a note, too. Just tell me where to send it. Click the green “Song of the Week” button below, and answer one quick question. When you do, you’ll also get access to “The Music Box”. That’s where I post all the free downloads — like music sheets — that go along with this song site. Unsubscribe any time easily. I hope you’ll check this neat convenience out for yourself. — Dale R.

Song of the Week

Please help me out here

Dear Reader, let me hear from you! Did you also hate work and later learn to love it? How did that happen for you? What would you want to tell young people about work? Please get in on the fun and share your comments below, and help me out here … with the work.
God bless you lots!
— Dale R.

9 Replies to “Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn”

  1. Julia M Witchard

    Good evening mr dale an amazing sermon. I indeed love the one that says….”SEE WORK GOD’S WAY.” SEEING WORK THROUGH THE EYES OF OUR FATHER JESUS…U INDEED TOUCH ON SO MANY AMAZING TOPICS..THAT SUMS UP WORK AS LOVING WHAT WE DO….I DISLIKED HAIR WHEN I WAS YOUNGER…THOUGHT IT DIDN’T REALLY MATTER…IT’S JUST HAIR.. BUT LOOKING BACK OVER THE YEAR. I CAN SEE OUR FATHER JESUS. THROUGH OUR FATHER HOLY SPIRIT… COACHING ME IN EVERY STEP THAT ITTOOK. SHOWING Me How to love people HIS WAY And Making them look and feel good. right now mr dale.. I have so much fun when I am working ….it doesn’t feel like.. work. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop… sometimes I forget how old i am.. but again I say it’s not me… it’s my ” FATHER HOLY SPIRIT “That is controlling my every step.. Sometimes I act just like a little kid..but that’s jut my FATHER JESUS WORKING IN Me…I will stop now because if I react on your complete sermon, I will have to write a book..u are an amazing person mr dale and so is cathy… and the two shall become as one…blessing 🙏 to u both 🙏….. 💓

    1. Dale Reichel Post author

      Julia, you are a great example of someone who works “heartily as to the Lord”. Well done! Thanks for your note and blessings. God bless YOU — Dale R.

  2. Sarah D.

    Absolutely delightful performance and a timely admonition! I’m going to go turn on some party music and tackle some chores! 🙂

  3. Ferne

    Enjoyed and totally agree with. Was raised with work, jobs, responsibilities. Was taught how to do thoroughly and be proud of the results and did not like the consequences of a slothful job. My children were raised this way and my grandchildren. I have always loved looking around my orderly clean home and being blessed. My mother’s moto, if it’s in your hand put it where it belongs the first time. When items are put away cleaning does not take very long. When we put our home, kitchen, in order before bed we wake up to a pleasant site. ?. Thanks Dale for this sharing and song.

    1. Dale Reichel Post author

      Ferne, thanks much for adding these thoughts! To all reading, LISTEN to this lady!!!! Love ya! God bless you lots. -Dale

      1. Hannah Tomlinson

        I’m listening! Haha! Thanks Ferne! I really love the way you describe how you keep your home. I hear the determination in your voice. 🙂

  4. Patty

    I’ve loved being the hands of the Lord in my small corner of the working world. Taking great care to be gentle and thorough and compassionate, it was rewarding being a dental hygienist. I miss it.
    Thanks for this important lesson, Dale.

    1. Dale Reichel Post author

      Patty, thanks for adding those thoughts. You’ve certainly blessed our family with your gentle, thorough compassion! Lead on! God bless you. – Dale


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.